Action Fantasia Festival

Fantasia Festival Review: ‘Yakuza Princess’ is an Action Thriller that’s a Cut Below Its Genre Counterparts

September 3, 2021Ben MK

When Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill debuted nearly two decades ago, the idea of a female action hero was still something of a novelty among moviegoers. Fast forward to the present day, and not only has the notion been accepted by audiences, it's been downright embraced. But in a world full of Charlize Therons, Margot Robbies and Karen Gillans, is there room at the multiplex for yet another tenacious underdog with a samurai sword in her hands and a chip on her shoulder?

Enter director Vicente Amorim's bloody crime thriller, Yakuza Princess. The story of a woman who learns that she may in fact be the heiress to one of the Yakuza crime syndicate's most powerful clans, the film follows Akemi (singer MASUMI), a 21-year-old Japanese expat living in São Paulo, Brazil. Orphaned at the tender age of one when a bloody massacre cut short the lives of her mother, father and brother, Akemi has spent the past 15 years training in the Japanese martial arts, oblivious to her true lineage. But when a mysterious amnesiac named Shiro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) shows up one day looking for a supposedly cursed katana that once belonged to her grandfather, his sudden appearance sets into motion a series of violent encounters, as Akemi finds herself fighting for her life against an opposing clan that wants her dead.

Based on the Brazilian comic book series Samurai Shiro, the result draws inspiration from such genre counterparts as John Wick and Atomic Blonde. However, to make any direct comparisons would do those movies a disservice. Suffice to say, Yakuza Princess leaves much to be desired when it comes to the caliber of its narrative — so while the film's ending invites the possibility of a sequel, it's unlikely that viewers will feel the same way.

Yakuza Princess makes its world premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 51 min.

You May Also Like