Heavyweights Paul Schrader and Robert Towne were responsible for the screenplay of this cracking east-meets-west thriller – directed by Sydney Pollack in his interesting 1970s period – in which Robert Mitchum goes to Tokyo and teams up with Japanese superstar Ken Takakura to rescue an American shipping magnate’s daughter from local gangsters.
There’s a lot of double-crossing interwoven with high-toned samurai philosophising, but it all boils down to Takakura’s supercool swordplay, while Big Bob crashes through paper screens with a shotgun and – unlike Michael Douglas in Black Rain – gets to grips with the ancient Yakuza custom of Yubitsume, ritual amputation of the pinky finger.
In this picture, we see Herb Edelman (probably best known as Dorothy’s ex-husband in The Golden Girls) as Wheat, a peace-loving American expat living in Tokyo. We know he is peace-loving because he has a couple of cats, one of which he clutches in terror when Japanese gangsters break into his home and try to shoot and/or stab everyone in sight. There are several casualties but, as far as we can see, none of them are feline.
So that’s all right, then.
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