Bullet Points: American Yakuza
American Yakuza is a movie I recall watching on one of the premium cable movie channels back in the 90’s. I remember liking the film, but over the years it was pretty much a forgotten film for me.
This past weekend I watched American Yakuza for the first time in 20 years. Did the movie I hold up?
The answer is yes. This movie is quality. The performances, the story and the action that is a part of the story (not just action for the sake of action in this one). All of it is quality and rewatching this movie was a wise decision on my part.
- The Premise: Viggo Mortensen plays FBI agent David Brandt, who has gone deep undercover as ex-con Nick Davis. When Nick gets a warehouse job for a company owned by the Tendo crime family, he is in the right place at the right time to save the life of Tendo’s main man in America, Shuji Sawamoto (Ryo Ishibashi) from a mob hit orchestrated by the Campanela crime family. Shuji (or Shu as Nick Davis calls him) does not forget what Nick did for him and he is soon working for the Tendo family and getting in deeper and deeper with them. Not everyone is immediately on board with Nick being a part of the Yakuza, especially Kazuo.
- Kazuo’s Jam: When Shu has Nick accompany Kazuo on an arms deal, Kazuo puts on his favorite jam, which the Internet has told me is Won’t Be Long by the Bubble Gum Brothers, for the simple reason to annoy his American passenger with his J-pop. I’ve done this before, but I’ve used “Din Daa Daa” by George Kranz from the Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo soundtrack. But as far as I’m concerned the driver does control the music!
- Love American Yakuza Style: While Kazuo and Nick don’t hit it off right away, Nick and Yuko are another story. It doesn’t take long for romance to blossom for these two crazy kids from different parts of the world. Don’t worry action fans, the romance isn’t too disruptive to the overall story as it is kept at a minimum.
- Yakuza vs. Mafia: In professional wrestling terms, we get a dream match as two powerhouses in the world of organized crime square off in a deadly game. This portion of the story is what drives most of the guns, violence and action in the film. When the FBI learns that the Campanella family has a major hit set to wipe out the entire Tendo family, instead of preventing it they opt to pull Brandt from the case and give him a ticket out of town until it all blows over. But is he too far down the Yakuza path to just up and leave?
Again, I’m really happy that I watched American Yakuza again. This one gets my thumbs up for sure.
And now for three more Bullet Points to wrap this review up…
- Cannon Role Reversals: There are two men fans of Cannon Films will recognize, Robert Forster, the man who played the main terrorist in The Delta Force is Brandt’s FBI boss in American Yakuza. Then there’s John Fujioka, the man who trained Michael Dudikoff to become the American Ninja in American Ninja. In American Yakuza he plays the head of the Tendo family, Isshin Tendo. What if his first name was Nin?
- On Second Thought: At one point it appears the Yakuza is going to kill a guy using a wood chipper… instead they just shoot him. I guess it was the less messy option and it got the same result.
- My Favorite Scene Is: When Nick Davis uses a forklift to remove a car from the warehouse at the beginning of the movie. That’s making the most of what you have at your disposal.