Film Review: Yakuza Princess

Akemi and Shiro

In the real world your life chances are influenced, to a large degree, by who your parents are and where you’re born. It’s not so straightforward in the movies. We want our heroes or heroines to be normal. Just like us. Their destiny not shaped by their privilege but instead self-determined by their actions. However, it’s always quite nice when there’s something more to it. The likes of Luke Skywalker, Katniss Everdeen and Harry Potter catch the imagination of young minds for a reason. Yakuza Princess has her own course to plot.

After the mysterious death of her parents, Akemi (MASUMI) is brought up by her grandfather. She is trained to be a fighter, from a young age, by the strict and taciturn Chiba (Toshiji Takeshima). After the murder of her last surviving family member the mysterious Shiro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) appears, a man suffering from amnesia and carrying an ancient samurai sword. Their fates are seemingly irrevocably entwined.

There are definite hints of Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander in Yakuza Princess, but the Brazilian film treads its own path. Based on an acclaimed graphic novel, it contains many familiar elements but works so well due to the pall of mystery which hangs over it throughout. This wrongness is repeatedly wrongfooting.  There’s lots of great action, numerous twists and turns and more than one bad guy to defeat in Vicente Amorim’s movie. Yakuza Princess is a bloody and brutal tale which promises more to come.

Yakuza Princess is in US theatres and on demand on 3 September.

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