Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer
Plot: The heiress to half of the Yakuza crime syndicate forges an uneasy alliance with an amnesiac stranger who believes an ancient sword binds their two fates. She must unleash war against the other half of the syndicate who wants her dead.
Review: Yakuza Princess is based on a comic book called Samurai Shiro. Normally movies based off of graphic novels make me want to seek out its source material, but if the comic is anything like the movie I’m not going to bother, and neither should you.
The first 45 minutes of this movie focuses on the two main characters who, although from different worlds, have the same problem. Both of them have no idea who they really are. Akemi (MASUMI, that’s how her name is SPELT) is a young woman who wants to know more about her deceased grandfather who was a crime boss in the Yakuza. Shiro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers of The Tudors, Vikings, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) wakes up in a hospital heavily scarred and with no memory of who he is and no items to his name except a sword. They eventually meet up and discover Shiro’s sword belonged to Akemi’s grandfather. Also there’s a conspiracy surrounding them both that stems from Akemi’s past. That’s about the size of it.
There’s some decent action sequences that pepper the movie here and there to break up the monotony of seeing these characters move from one moment to the next, but it’s not enough to make this movie entertaining. As I mentioned earlier the first half drags as we have our two main protagonists going through their individual scenes before they meet up, and you would hope things would take off after that point but we’re once again dragged into the mystery behind Akemi’s family. And to be honest it was all so boring I checked out mentally as I kept staring at my watch wondering how the hell I was going to get through an additional hour of this film.
The way the Yakuza is presented is quite generic and all surface level. The mobsters have cool tattoos, some wield swords instead of guns, and there’s a traitor among them. Nothing worth writing about. Visually the movie looks quite dark in some places and overly produced in others, yet somehow none of it is the least bit memorable. And like I mentioned before, the fight sequences are well-executed but they aren’t enough to save this by-the-numbers movie that feels like a rehash of much better films we’ve seen before.
One last thing I forgot to mention. This movie is set in São Paulo Brazil. I don’t know if there actually is a sizeable Japanese colony in Brazil but if it does this movie did nothing to make it stand out in any particular way. I suggest watching the 1989 movie Black Rain instead. What that movie lacked in character development it more than made up for with atmosphere, and I promise it will leave much more of an impression than Yakuza Princess ever could.
Sommer’s Score: 4.5 out of 10
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Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes.
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