**½/**** Image A- Sound C Extras C
starring Robert Mitchum, Takakura Ken, Okada Eiji, Brian Keith
screenplay by Paul Schrader and Robert Towne
directed by Sydney Pollack
by Jefferson Robbins We'll never know what might have been had Paul and Leonard Schrader's original screenplay for The Yakuza gone unmolested by '70s script king Robert Towne, or had Martin Scorsese or Brian De Palma made good on threats to direct. Instead, the obvious gets overlaid on top of the mysterious, and at least one partner in this marriage of the American and Japanese gangster genres winds up shorted. Producer-director Sydney Pollack makes the mistake his best peers in the decade's American cinema dodged: he mistrusts the audience, believing we can't absorb backstory through performance and suggestion.