By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3 (Out of 4 Stars)
Brazilian director Vicente Amorim presents a film full of style and some panache that looks great on the big screen. It is obivious that filmmaker has drawn from various inspirations and does so in some dynamic visual ways. Unfortunately, the writing that went into this screenplay does quite elevate this story to its intended impact. Yakuza Princess is definitely a very watchable action flick, but lacks the intense gravity that the story deserves.
Masumi stars as Akemi, a young woman who has lived most of her life in Brazil, but has some deep roots in Osaka, Japan. At a very young age, Akemi witnesses the assassination of her real family, including her father who was deeply connected with the Yakuza. Not too long after the death of her grandfather, adult Akemi, now far away from home, sees her seemingly normal life upended when her father’s previous associates discover her existence in Brazil and decide to attempt her elimination. Meanwhile, an amnesiac (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) awakens in a hospital in Akemi’s Brazilian home, not remembering why he is there. He does know that he is carrying an ancient Samurai sword and escapes his hospital to seek the truth behind his placement there.
Written by Fernando Toste and Kimi Lee, based on the graphic novel Samurai Shiro by Danilo Beyruth, Yakuza Princess delivers suspense, intense viseral action and a mostly compelling story. However, the weak character development in the writing of the screenplay withholds this movie from offering its intended impact. Director Vicente Amorim certainly has much skill in presenting this story, as it should be presented, but is working with a script which hinders the film, as well as its cast members.
I mostly like what this movie has to offer, but feel that writing is the movie’s biggest weakness. While I enjoyed the action and intensity, I feel that the movie needed much more dramatic and character driven development. Nevertheless, I can see this movie leading to some fascinating sequels that further flesh out these characters and story arc. It is for those reasons that Yakuza Princess is a decent introduction to this world, but any further installments will need to build what has already been established.