The Yakuza

1975 film by Sydney Pollack

The Yakuza is a 1974 film about a man who returns to Japan after several years away in order to rescue his friend's kidnapped daughter.

Directed by Sydney Pollack. Written by Leonard Schrader, Paul Schrader, and Robert Towne.
A man never forgets. A man pays his debts.  (taglines)


  • American sword cuts on a push stroke, Japanese sword cuts on a pull stroke. When an American cracks up, he opens up the window and shoots up a bunch of strangers. When a Japanese cracks up, he closes the window and kills himself. Everything is in reverse.


  • Goro Tanaka: Ken is a tormented man. It is Eiko, of course, but it is also Japan. Ken is a relic, a leftover of another age, of another country.


Harry Kilmer: Everywhere I look, I can't recognize a thing.
Oliver Wheat: It's still there. Farmers in the countryside may watch TV from their tatami mats and you can't see Fuji through the smog, but don't let it fool you. It's still Japan and the Japanese are still Japanese.

Dusty: That guy doesn't like you.
Harry Kilmer: No, not much.
Dusty: So how come you figure you can trust him?
Harry Kilmer: Giri.
Dusty: Gitty?
Harry Kilmer: Giri. Obligation.
Dusty: You mean he figures he owes you something?
Harry Kilmer: Yeah, sort of.
Dusty: Well, that can work two ways, Kilmer. If you ain't alive tomorrow, he don't owe you shit.

Eiko Tanaka: Did you speak to Ken?
Harry Kilmer: Yeah
Eiko Tanaka: Does he know we are here?
Harry Kilmer: Sure.
Eiko Tanaka: Is he unhappy?
Harry Kilmer: I'm on my way over to see him now.
Eiko Tanaka: But is he unhappy?
Harry Kilmer: Of course he's unhappy, he's been unhappy ever since he lost the war. I keep trying to tell him it's not his fault, he won't take my word for it.

Dusty: This Giri...
Ken Tanaka: Giri? Hai.
Dusty: It means obligation, right?
Ken Tanaka: Burden.
Dusty: Burden?
Ken Tanaka: It's called, 'the burden hardest to bear.'
Dusty: Yeah, well, suppose you don't bear it. I mean, no one's going to come down on you?
Ken Tanaka: No.
Dusty: Well, you guys believe in some kind of Heaven and Hell?
Ken Tanaka: No.
Dusty: Then what is it you believe in that makes you do it?
Ken Tanaka: Giri.


  • A man never forgets. A man pays his debts.
  • 100 years ago they were called Samurai.
  • Separated by blood and centuries - United by a Woman - Now, hurled together against the Yakuza . . . brotherhood of the East.
  • The Secret Society of Japan


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