Daily Dojo

Friday Fight Scene - The Yakuza (1974)

In the early seventies, a young Paul Schrader met up with his younger brother Leonard, who’d just returned from four years teaching in Japan and shared some of his experiences with Paul, telling him he hoped to turn it into a novel.

Paul said, “Novel, sure, but let’s write a screenplay first and sell it for big bucks!” which then began one of the biggest spec sales of its day, which Paul pitched as “Bruce Lee meets The Godfather” (and yeah, I know, Bruce was Chinese and Yakuza are Japanese, but it was the 70s Paul figured the Hollywood suits wouldn’t know the difference)… and later became a Sidney Pollack movie starring Robert Mitchum, among others… and features a fantastic sword fight at the end and a great gun fight, too.

Clips are scarce, I have here the great scene where Dusty, played by the awesome Richard Jordan, dies:

Which is particularly well crafted (especially the man who keeps begging them to stop, it adds and even greater tension to this scene).

Of the sword scene, I could only find this clip, which has different action scenes spliced together and someone else’s score tracked over it, but I’m embedding it regardless, just to give you an idea of its coolness and will urge you to check out this movie asap… it’s a great flick.

That’s the great Ken Takakura as Ken, the sword expert… what’s fascinating about that fight scene is that there is ONE person that Ken, during his attack, he’d promised NOT to kill, and of course, that’s one person at the end who attacks him and leaves him no choice. It’s a really fantastic choice.

What’s really kickass about THE YAKUZA is that there is a layered complex family drama underneath it… it’s not a mindless one man defends against the yakuza, not at all, it has a depth and a power and a few rather stunning character reveals… reveals I’m not going to spoil here… I’ll just add that, on top of the fight scenes, The Yakuza is a movie well worth seeing. A classic that doesn’t get enough love… check it out.

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