Wednesday, 17 February 2010
Hollywood big shot Robert Mitchum stars in this 1974 thriller which was directed by Sydney Pollack that seems to be somewhat forgotten despite the talent on show. According to IMDb the script cost a then record $300,000 and you’d have thought for that money you might have gotten something a bit more innovating and exciting but all in all it’s a pretty decent offering with a few juicy scraps.
Mitchum plays Harry Kilmer an American returning to Japan after a long time away. His friend who was a bad wig has asked him to help out, as his daughter has been kidnapped by the titular clan and is to be killed in 4 days. Mitchum has a bit of history in Japan and soon shows up at his old squeeze’s place and meet her foxy daughter.
Despite his strong line in chat and his no-nonsense camel hair coat Mitchum soon starts to encounter all the honour and obligation nonsense that always annoys you when you see a Japanese film. I’m all for a bit of culture clash but all this bowing and apologising can grate a bit.
Anyway after negotiations fail Mitchum shows up all guns blazing and rescues the girl. Fortunately for him the Yakuza have to kill with swords so he’s a pretty good bet with his 12 bore! The Yakuza don’t take his interference lightly however and send an assassin to get him at the sauna, who fails miserable with his small fruit knife.
With the shit now hitting the fan at great speed the action hots up with an attack at the girlfriend's house shortly followed by another at the wig man’s. The big ending takes place at one of those paper houses and has more slashes than the urinals at Glastonbury. By now the aged Mitchum is looking a bit tired so he lets his pals do most of the work which he watches, resplendent in his duffel coat.
Like all ‘fish out of water ‘ films this one relies a lot on the difference in culture. Mitchum’s no nonsense approach gets short shift with the inscrutable Japanese who are always going on about honour and then stabbing everyone in the back.
There’s not an awful lot of plot going on with Michum’s character not very believable - he a kind of hat stand in a polo neck wooing all the girls and blasting a shotgun like it’s free cartridge day. The action scenes are pretty good and I especially liked the chopped off hand flying through the air while still firing a gun.
There were a couple of surprises along the way and given a body count of at least 20 there’s enough to keep the blood thirsty element appeased. There wasn’t really enough to engage me but overall this routine thriller was a decent distraction with some memorable moments.
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