‘Yakuza Princess’ Review: Crime, Amnesia, and Ancient Swords


You know he wasn’t kidding from the opening scene of this movie. Set in “20 years ago” Osaka, the blue-colored sequence depicts a solemn ceremony that is shattered by bloody gun-assisted assassinations and ends with a young boy putting a bullet in the neck. That’s why when I say “he’s not kidding” I mean “he wants to impress you with the vulgar opportunism of his violence”.

Adapted from a comic book, “Yakuza Princess” is not a Japanese movie; this is a brazilian. director Vicente Amorim and the comic book “Samurai Shiro” is by Danilo Beyruth. Most of the action takes place in São Paulo, which has one of the largest Japanese immigrant communities in the world. Japanese pop musician Masumi (who doesn’t seem comfortable in his role) plays Akemi, who is just 21 years old and lives an ordinary life in this Brazilian city.

At the same time, in Osaka, Yakuza soldier Takeshi (Tsuyoshi Ihara) is on a hunt that involves brainwashing people. In São Paulo, a hospitalized, amnesiac white man escapes his medical condition and takes a very shiny (and loud) old sword with him. (The character is played by Jonathan Rhys Meyers, his face scarred like Karloff’s version of Frankenstein’s monster.)

It seems inevitable that this group will somehow form a family. Okay, not so, but yes, their paths cross because – of course – Akemi was the sole survivor of that opening massacre. And Takeshi was somehow related, and… well, it’s pretty complicated and not very relevant, because lots of chases, crazy fights, and various beheadings are really what the movie is about.

The sarcastic pro forma horror of “Yakuza Princess” indicates that the sensational cinema, or at least the ostensibly mainstream iteration, is currently running out of resources.

Yakuza Princess
Rated R for lots of violence and tons of violence. Run time: 1 hour 51 minutes. In theaters and can be rented or purchased apple tv, Google Play and other streaming platforms and pay-TV operators.


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