Double Feature

The Yakuza

A Better Tomorrow II

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The Yakuza

With a script co-written by Robert Towne (Chinatown) and Paul & Leonard Schrader (the latter two big fans of Japan’s homegrown gangster pictures), American audiences finally got introduced to the genre that had been a box office success in the Far East since the early 1960s. Director Sydney Pollack and his writers blend hardboiled American neo-noir (WW2 vet-turned-detective Robert Mitchum) and anti-heroic Japanese yakuza (ex-gangster-turned-kendo-instructor Ken Takakura), following the tie that binds the two subcultures – and the two individuals – together. Keiko Kishi is Takakura’s ‘sister’ and the object of Mitchum’s unrequited love from post-WW2 years. All three are reunited when Mitchum’s old army buddy, Brian Keith, has his daughter snatched by yakuza business associates in Japan, and Keith implores the reluctant Mitchum to help get her back. In the process, obligations are called in, many lives are changed, and some are shattered by the duplicitous nature of where ‘legitimate’ big business intersects with the underworld. There are high octane performances from the leads and solid back-up from supporting players Richard Jordan (The Friends of Eddie Coyle), Herb Edelman, James Shigeta and Eiji Okada.

“The film succeeds in casting its own slow spell. Takakura’s terse, spring-coiled performance nicely compliments Mitchum’s… the formalized violence is rivetingly choreographed. The final showdown is one not to be missed.” – Time Out

View the full set of US lobby cards for The Yakuza on the New Beverly forum.

Quentin Tarantino writes about The Yakuza on the New Beverly blog.

Director
Sydney Pollack
Starring
Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Keith, Herb Edelman, Richard Jordan
Year
1974
Rated
R
Country
Japan/USA
Format
35mm
Running Time
112 minutes

A Better Tomorrow II

A Better Tomorrow II, John Woo’s jaw-dropping sequel to his own groundbreaking heroic bloodshed classic, finds the filmmaker working full force in unleashing a complex crime saga that may be even bigger and better than the first. Woo balances a ballet of bullets, honor and loyalty to craft an over-the-top action film that still exudes effortless cool, following a cop, a reformed gangster, and a restaurateur as they team to take down the syndicate in a no-holds-barred barrage of gunfire. [SPOILER: Even though his character dies in the original, a badass Chow Yun-Fat incredibly returns, this time as the long-lost twin brother!!]

Director
John Woo
Starring
Ti Lung, Chow Yun Fat, Leslie Cheung, Dean Shek
Year
1987
Country
Hong Kong
Format
English subtitled 35mm
Running Time
105 minutes

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