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American Yakuza

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Frank Cappello

Initial DVD release
September 5, 2000




Action, Crime, Drama

Back to Back

United States

American Yakuza movie poster
Release date
December 22, 1993 (1993-12-22) (Japan theatrical)

Takashige Ichise (story), Max Strom (screenplay), John Allen Nelson (screenplay)

Viggo Mortensen
(Nick Davis),
Ryo Ishibashi
(Shuji Sawamoto),
Anzu Lawson
Michael Nouri
(Dino Campanela),
Yuji Okumoto

Similar movies
American Yakuza and Back to Back are part of the same movie series

The mob has a new enemy.

American yakuza 1993 funny van song scene

Infiltrating a Japanese gang puts an FBI agent (Viggo Mortensen) in the middle of a Los Angeles mob war.


American Yakuza movie scenes

American Yakuza is a 1993 American action film written by Takashige Ichise with a screenplay by John Allen Nelson and Max Strom, and directed by Frank Cappello for First Look International. Starring Viggo Mortensen and Ryo Ishibashi, the film had its theatrical release in Japan in December 1993, followed by theatrical release in South Korea in 1994. The film had its video premiere in the United States in 1995 and its DVD premiere in Russia in 2002.

American Yakuza movie scenes AMERICAN YAKUZA 1993 B Movie eview

When Nick Davis leaves prison after one year in solitaire, he is hired to operate forklift in a warehouse in the harbor owned by the Japanese Yakuza patriarch Isshin Tendo. The place is assaulted by the Italian Mafia leaded by Dino Campanela and Nick rescues and saves the life of Shuji Sawamoto, who is the representative of Yakuza interests in America. Shuji hires Nick to work for Yakuza and becomes his godfather in the family after his oath to join Yakuza. However, Nick is a lonely FBI undercover agent assigned to penetrate in the criminal organization. When the FBI discovers that Campanela is organizing a massive attack to destroy the Yakuza, Nick's boss Littman calls off the operation to leave the dirty work to the Italian Mafia. But the connection of Nick with Shuji and his goddaughter Yuko forces him to help his Japanese family.


American FBI agent Nick Davis (Viggo Mortensen) works undercover, rising through the ranks of the Yakuza to infiltrate their operations. Adopted by the Tendo crime family, he is entangled with the Italian mafia, the Yakuza, and the FBI. In the end he must decide what is most important to him.

Partial cast

  • Viggo Mortensen as Nick Davis / David Brandt
  • Ryo Ishibashi as Shuji Sawamoto
  • Michael Nouri as Dino Campanela
  • Franklyn Ajaye as Sam
  • Yuji Okumoto as Kazuo
  • Anzu Lawson as Yuko
  • Robert Forster as Littman
  • Nicky Katt as Vic
  • James Taenaka as Taka
  • Toni Naples as Mrs. Campanela
  • John Fujioka as Isshin Tendo
  • Saiko Isshiki as Aya
  • Fritz Mashimo as Okazaki
  • Joey Ciccone as Rudy
  • Similar Movies

    American Yakuza and Back to Back are part of the same movie series. Viggo Mortensen appears in American Yakuza and Everyone Has a Plan. Donnie Brasco (1997). Black Rain (1989). Showdown in Little Tokyo (1991).

    Critical response

    TV Guide wrote that director Frank Cappello did "an adequate job of weaving a relatively intricate storyline together, while delivering numerous explosive, action-packed sequences", offering that Viggo Mortensen excelled in his performance, and Ryo Ishibashi was impressive in his role. They concluded that overall, American Yakuza "is a surprisingly powerful portrayal of the loyalties that exist in the underworld, where violence and betrayal are a way of life."

    Reviewer Anton Bitel wrote after considering Viggo Mortensens acting in this 1993 film, and how he is better remembered now as Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings films, this one "will leave viewers wondering why Mortensen’s talents were not generally recognized a lot earlier." He also notes that one of the films ironies is that when the Mafia takes on the Yakuza in the film and "boast of their American drive and know-how", they forget the similarities in that a century earlier they were just as eager as the Yakuza "to get a foothold in this country”. Bitel feels that "American Yakuza is in effect ‘The Godfather: the next Generation’ – an immigrant saga of family, blood and assimilation that just happens to be set in the world of organized crime." He found flaws in that parts of the film "have the look of a rock video" and overall suffers from needing a larger budget. He concludes with praise for the acting, twisting plotline, and the carefully restrained violence.


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