Writer Paul Schrader's homage to the Japanese gangster movie, with the standard plot opened out to accommodate Mitchum and American support, who share the screen with Ken Takakura (the No 1 star of such pictures) and some attractive Japanese locations. Behind an excessively wordy script, obligatory twists and double-crosses, and the celibate stance of the two leads, there emerges the familiar and increasingly explicit nostalgic celebration of the chivalric male relationships of countless American Westerns. The exposition is often laughably inscrutable, and obligations to both Japanese and American audiences frequently land in the mid-Pacific, but the film succeeds in casting its own slow spell. Takakura's terse, spring-coiled performance nicely complements Mitchum's somnolent bulk, and despite falterings in build-up, the formalised violence is rivetingly choreographed. The final show-down is one not to be missed.