Fantasia Film Festival Review: Yakuza Princess (2021)

Featured image: MASUMI as Akemi in Yakuza Princess. (Courtesy of Fantasia).

Directed by Vicente Amorim. Starring MASUMI, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Tsuyoshi Ihara. Runtime 1h 50 min. Yakuza Princess had its World Premiere on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, at the Fantasia Film Festival.

Set in São Paulo, Brazil, home to the largest Japanese diasporic community in the world, Akemi (played by MASUMI) doesn’t know much about her heritage. She’s trained by her sensei, Chiba (Toshiji Takeshima), as she yearns to go to Japan to learn more about herself.

Edited in between that, we meet the amnesiac Shiro (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) in a hospital, and no one knows his identity, but he has a katana sword that he believes connects them. Their pairing in Vicente Amorim’s Yakuza Princess is interesting, especially as we don’t know what to expect from them.

We get that answer as we unpack the mystery of his memory, though those answers aren’t always crystal clear and it gets a bit convoluted. As for Akemi, her first action scene is a cool mix of MASUMI’s talents. This is her first feature film as she’s a singer and belts a tune at karaoke for her birthday, and then kicks the ass of a few goons who harass her.

She very much holds her own in the action scenes. The fight choreography is strong and (CGI) gore is always steady, with some strong sequences sprinkled throughout, especially a fun scene set in a graveyard. It’s also very well-shot, balancing hand-to-hand combat and gun action.

It doesn’t have the variety of chorography to sustain long, drawn-out fight scenes, so if you’re searching for great ones like seen in The Raid or even The Night Comes for Us (both Indonesia actioners), it’s not here. It underwhelms in certain areas because of that, in terms of a familiar story and a scene that doesn’t feel like a “calling card.” However, it’s still a good showcase for MASUMI as a badass hero coming into her own, with some fun scenes to make it worth the two hours.

Score: 63/100

Yakuza Princess plays again on Friday, August 20 at 9:00 a.m. and will be available for a 24-hour viewing window, and is geo-blocked to Canada. More info here. 

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