The Yakuza appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a high-quality presentation.
Sharpness was solid. I thought a few scenes early seemed a smidgen soft, but those were rare, so most of the movie seemed crisp and concise. No issues with jagged edges, shimmering, or edge enhancement materialized. Print flaws also failed to appear.
Colors looked positive. At times the hues could threaten to become overly dense, but they remained warm and rich. Blacks were nicely deep and full, while shadows looked clear and smooth. The final product presented the film well.
Don’t expect anything memorable from the DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack of The Yakuza, as this was a consistently average mix for its age. Speech sounded a little thin but the lines were always concise and easily intelligible.
Music lacked much range but seemed clear and didn’t suffer from any shrillness. The same went for effects. Though I failed to notice much dynamic range from those elements, the effects seemed acceptably distinctive, and they lacked distortion. This was a decent track for an older flick.
How did the Blu-ray compare to the original 2007 DVD? Audio seemed fairly similar, as the lossless mix couldn’t add much to the limitations of the source. The DTS-HD MA track might’ve boasted a little more range but not much.
On the other hand, the visuals brought us clear improvements. The Blu-ray gave us stronger definition as well as more natural colors and reduced print flaws. The Blu-ray was an obvious step up from the DVD.
The Blu-ray repeats the DVD’s extras, and we get an audio commentary from director Sydney Pollack. He offers a running, screen-specific chat that looks at what led him to the project, the script and its development, shooting in Japan and working with Japanese crew, cast and performances, some background about the Yakuza and Japanese culture, action scenes and choreography, and various other production topics.
At his best, Pollack offers a good examination of the flick. He tells us a reasonable amount about the shoot and other issues and makes the chat informative. He even gets into details about his storyboarding preferences and his choice of aspect ratio.
Unfortunately, more than a little dead air crops up along the way, and those moments cause the track to drag. It’s still worth a listen, though.
In addition to the film’s trailer, a “vintage featurette” called Promises to Keep runs 19 minutes, 26 seconds. This takes us on location to Japan with the movie production. We learn a little about Japanese culture and also watch aspects of the shoot.
A few comments from Pollack about subjects such as working in Japan emerge as well. We get too many movie shots, and those can make “Keep” feel like a trailer. Nonetheless, the glimpses of the shoot and Pollack’s notes allow the program to become interesting.
The Yakuza offers a somewhat unusual thriller. Rather than pursue a simple course, it takes a windier path toward its destination, a choice that allows its underlying themes to develop in a satisfying way. The Blu-ray presents very good picture with decent audio and a few useful extras. The film merits a look and the Blu-ray upgrades the DVD well.
To rate this film visit the original review of THE YAKUZA