The Yakuza 1974 M

12.45PM Sat 23 Nov 2019 (1hr 52mins)
GOMA | Cinema A | Ticketed

SYNOPSIS

The Yakuza will screen from an imported 35mm print.

The Sydney Pollack-directed neo-noir The Yakuza marked the first instance of one of Paul Schrader’s screenplays being adapted into a feature film. Co-written with his brother Leonard and Chinatown 1974 scribe Robert Towne, the film established many of the themes and motifs that would recur throughout Schrader’s career: the loneliness of the outsider looking in, the danger of myopic moral codes, and personal absolution through violence.

Robert Mitchum (melancholic and weathered, yet still utterly commanding) stars as Harry Kilmer, a retired detective and former soldier who was stationed in Japan during the post-war occupation. During  his years in Tokyo, he fell for a Japanese woman named Eiko (Keiko Kishi), who was forbidden from loving him by her brother Ken (Ken Takakura). Now, many years later, American businessman George Tanner (Brian Keith) asks Kilmer to return to Japan to help rescue Tanner’s daughter, who has been kidnapped by the Yakuza during a business deal gone wrong. Kilmer’s return puts him back in touch with Eiko and Ken, and dormant feelings start to re-emerge.

Both bloody in its action and sentimental in its romance, The Yakuza is a beguiling and engaging noir set on the streets of 1970s Tokyo. The film was inspired by Leonard Schrader’s love of Yakuza films and his run-ins with organised crime syndicates during his years living in Japan. Although the Schrader brothers had never sold a script before, the strength of their work on this screenplay caused a bidding war between different producers eager to attach themselves to such a hot property. Although it ended up being a commercial disappointment upon release, it remains a thrilling crime drama delivered with toughness and style.

CREDITS

35MM, COLOUR, MONO, 112 MINUTES, UNITED STATES/JAPAN, ENGLISH/JAPANESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: SYDNEY POLLACK / SCRIPT: PAUL SCHRADER, ROBERT TOWNE / CINEMATOGRAPHER: KÔZÔ OKAZAKI / EDITORS: DON GUIDICE, THOMAS STANFORD / PROD CO: WARNER BROS / PRINT SOURCE: ACADEMY FILM ARCHIVE, LOS ANGELES / RIGHTS: ROADSHOW FILMS / SCREENING FORMAT: 35MM