Straight from the bargain shelf at the video store to you, American Yakuza is a film that will disappoint everyone save for fans of Viggo Mortensen. Its cliched Japanese characters and weak performances by everyone but Ryo Ishibashi, who plays a leading role (but of course, secondary to Viggo) offer us nothing new that we have not seen in other movies, and can safely be ignored.
If you choose not to ignore the movie completely, and instead want to read an explanation of why it is to be avoided, please continue. Nick Davis (Mortenson) is introduced to us as an apparent ex-con looking for work. He finds it as a fork lift operator, and one day he springs into action when the business is attacked by suit-wearing Japanese submachine gunners. Unsurprisingly, this is a Yakuza conflict, and our hero rescues a Japanese man who turns out to be Shuji Sawamoto (Ishibashi), a sort of lieutenant to boss Isshin Tendo (John Fujioka). Shortly thereafter all is explained as it is revealed that Nick is actually David Brandt, an undercover FBI agent tasked with infiltrating the Tendo family's business in the US.
Themes included within this movie include the agency unsure if their man is still theirs or has actually gone over to the other side, shooting other agents in the legs etc. to disable rather than kill them without blowing his cover; The Japanese trophy chick presented to the apparent savior of the family; the concept of loyalty among the Yakuza; and the rich, arrogant Mafioso (Michael Nouri as Dino Campanela) who is predictably at war with the Tendo family. A casual read through this particular paragraph will reveal that everything about this movie is utterly trite, so again, unless you want to see a brief (and admittedly tasteful) sex scene between Viggo and a Japanese woman, give this bad boy a miss. I assure you that only the most diehard Viggo fans will find even that to be sufficient compensation for their time.