Yakuza princess

Yakuza princess
Running time:112 minutes
Director:Vicente Amorim
Release date:Not communicated
Set in the expansive Japanese community of Sao Paulo in Brazil — the largest Japanesediaspora in the world — Yakuza Princess follows Akemi (Masumi), an orphan who discovers she is the heiress to half of the Yakuza crime syndicate. Forging an uneasy alliance with an amnesiac stranger (Rhys Meyers) who believes an ancient sword binds their two fates, Akemi must unleash war against the other half of the syndicate who wants her dead.

Mulder's Review

“ Yakuza Princess is a thriller with a very strong emotional drive. This drive is powered by Akemi, who comes of age while having to learn how to fight (quite literally) and becoming who she was always meant to be. The film showcases a very complex, broken, family dynamic, with themes such as identity and belonging, the longing for (and rejection of) a father figure as pivot points around which we see her trajectory unfold. The Yakuza Princess brings strong Japanese elements from the jidaigeki tradition of masters such as Mizoguchi or Kurosawa, the vibrant aesthetics of animes such as Akira and the violence derived from the new Ronin classics by Takashi Miike and Takeshi Kitano. As in those films, no punches are pulled. The Japanese neighborhood’s settings in São Paulo play a major role in the choreography of chases, fights and shootouts. Brazil’s own clique of the Yakuza, its corrupt police, and its own brand of domestic violence are present in the fringes of a greater, very elaborate, action canvas that will be grounded in the character’s traits and will lead their arcs.” - Vicente Amorim

As part of our press coverage of the Canadian festival Fantasia, we were able to discover the new film by Vicente Amorim (Good (2008), Motorrad (2017), A Divisão (2020). This Brazilian director shows that action cinema knows no boundaries and can be approached from a different perspective. Far from chaining endless fight scenes, Yakuza Princess prefers to focus on a more psychological approach to give the characters real depth.  By adapting the graphic novel of Danilo Beyruth (Samurai Shiro), the scriptwriters Vicente Amorim, Kimi Lee, Tubaldini Shelling, Fernando Toste have found material to give life to an enigmatic thriller in which a tragic event of the past will have important repercussions on the present.

We discover Akemi (MASUMI) a young Japanese descendant who sees a strange man appear on her path, amnesiac, armed with a katana, Shiro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and is pursued by the yakuzas. She will have to face them, as well as her own past, to survive. From the first minutes, the setting is set up and we enter directly into the action. Rather clever, the scenario adapts quite faithfully the work of Danilo Beyruth and places the action not in Asia as in many action films, nor in the United States or in Europe but in Brazil, which brings to this film a different touch and an important added value to dynamize the story. Yakuza Princess takes place mainly in the Liberdade district of the city of São Paulo.

While most of the recent action movies rely on a rather simplistic plot to give rise to spectacular action scenes, Yakuza Princess moves towards a story featuring bloody struggles for power, family honor and the strong link between the actions of the past and the present time. In this search for oneself, Shiro and Akemi will see their paths cross several times. The film takes a real look at the metropolis of São Paulo, which is considered the largest Japanese community in the world outside Japan. Yakuza Princess shows that the Brazilian independent cinema can compete with the American majors on their own ground by infusing a real rhythm to the story and benefiting from a solid cast. We have to admit that the duo Masumi and Jonathan Rhys Meyers works perfectly and that we follow their evolution with interest.

Yakuza princess
Directed by Vicente Amorim
Produced by Tubaldini Shelling, André Skaf 
Written by Vicente Amorim, Kimi Lee, Tubaldini Shelling, Fernando Toste
Starring  MASUMI, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Eijiro Ozaki, Kenny Leu, Toshiji Takeshima, Mariko Takai, Nicholas Trevijano, Iuri Saraiva, Ricardo Gelli, Nduduzo Siba, Charles Paraventi, André Ramiro, Toshi Tanaka
Music by Lucas Marcier, Fabiano Krieger
Cinematography : Gustavo Hadba
Edited by Danilo Lemos 
Production companies : Tubaldini Shelling, Andre Skaf, Filmland International
Distributed by XYZ Films, Magnet Releasing (U.S)
Release date : NC
Running time : 112 minutes

Seen on July 31, 2021 (press screener)

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