24. The Yakuza (1975)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Academy Award-winning director Sydney Pollack’s The Yakuza may have failed to garner much box office success, but it’s certainly one of the few Western-made films to properly showcase reverence to Japanese culture.

The Yakuza is both a thriller and a piece of social commentary, depicting the differing perspectives between the east and the west. Robert Mitchum plays a detective, Kilmer, who falls for a Japanese woman named Eiko but soon discovers a troubling reality: Eiko’s brother (Ken Takakura) is a returning, pissed-off imperial soldier.

Kilmer reluctantly asks for former yakuza member Ken's help in saving a kidnapped child. The unlikely relationship between two characters from very different cultures could’ve devolved into a series of painful stereotypes; however, The Yakuza never lampoons its subject matter.