Film Review: YAKUZA PRINCESS: A Fast Moving Flick with Guns and Swords [Fantasia 2021]

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Masumi Kicking Yakuza Princess

Yakuza Princess Review

Yakuza Princess (2021) Film Review from the 25th Annual Fantasia International Film Festival, a movie directed by Vicente Amorim and starring MASUMI, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Tsuyoshi Ihara, Kenny Leu, Eijiro Ozaki, Mariko Takai, Toshiji Takeshima and Nicolas Trevijano.

Yakuza Princess is a mostly unconventional yet occasionally routine action picture that keeps audiences intrigued throughout. How can a movie be unique and familiar at the same time? The movie’s settings give it a great sense of place but the characters sometimes feel run of the mill in certain scenes that help develop the film’s story line. With that being said, this movie is still exciting, fast paced fun with two charismatic, likable leads in MASUMI and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. Whether or not you’re supposed to like Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ character here is debatable but remembering his performance as the nice father in August Rush, I just saw his character in Yakuza Princess as a misunderstood hero. After all, his character doesn’t remember anything when we first meet him!

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The film opens with a massacre. A little girl’s family is murdered right in front of her. Then we cut to 20 years later in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The little girl is now grown. She is Akemi (played by MASUMI) who works at a knick knack shop. Akemi is actually associated with a gang of crime lords through no fault of her own. The problem is now that she’s of adult age, she’s about to discover she’s a heiress to a legacy she may want nothing to do with.

Meanwhile, Shiro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is a man who has amnesia and is at a local hospital when we meet him. However, a katana sword he has is a link to his real identity. When he meets up with Akemi, he is determined to keep her safe from people who are out to get her which includes some losers from a local nightclub Akemi performs at.

The main crime family the film portrays is interesting but somewhat conventional. You have the regular bad guys, the really evil bad guys and the worst of the pack who are those who want to kill Akemi such as Takeshi (Tsuyoshi Ihara). Shiro, himself, plays an interesting role in the picture and I won’t give away, exactly, what it is. Takeshi as a character, though, is too over-the-top with Ihara’s performance only sometimes on the mark but that doesn’t mean we don’t want to see him get his just desserts and this movie promises to offer its audience a lot of revenge and payback scenes which it definitely delivers on.

At one point, Akemi tells Shiro that a key character in the film is just an innocent old man and Shiro responds by saying there’s no such thing as an innocent old man. That piece of dialogue sort of sets the tone for the film where almost every character has some kind of secret past or agenda. Director Vicente Amorim keeps the pace moving fast and the adrenaline pumping. There’s no shortage of bloody fight scenes or limb dismemberment and there’s even a decapitation thrown in just for good measure.

MASUMI is likable as a leading lady and she kicks major butt in the action scenes of the picture which is what the target audience of this movie wants. Jonathan Rhys Meyers could have a whole new career for himself as an action hero if his work in this film is any indication. The movie sets the stage for a sequel at the end, and I personally wouldn’t mind one.

Yakuza Princess makes nice use of its locations and the supporting cast is, for the most part, solid. Eijiro Ozaki, in particular, stands out as a vicious character who has a secret that the movie unveils. This film, not surprisingly, is based on a graphic novel called Samurai Shiro. If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry. You can still thoroughly enjoy Yakuza Princess as it unleashes one fight scene after another in a style action fans will adore.

Rating: 7/10

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