Thursday, August 19, 2021

Fantasia 2021: Yakuza Princess (2021)

Movie Name/Year: Fantasia 2021: Yakuza Princess (2021)
Genre: Thriller, Action
Length: 111 minutes
Rating: R
Language: English
Production/Distribution: Filmland International, XYZ Films, Magnet Releasing, Magnolia Pictures, Vortex Media
Director: Vicente Amorim
Writer: Vicente Amorim, Danilo Beyrouth
Actors: MASUMI, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Tsuyoshi Ihara,
Blurb from IMDb: 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.

Selina’s Point of View:
I was super excited to see Yakuza Princess as part of the Fantasia Film Festival line up. Nothing offers up some pure escapism like an action thriller.
This movie is an adaptation of a graphic novel. Off the bat, I need to note that I’m unfamiliar with the original work. I can’t speak on what the quality of Yakuza Princess is as an adaptation. I can only judge it as a movie. How it matches up to the graphic novel, how it represents the characters fans know… those are aspects that can only be judged by readers of the original.
That said, I did enjoy this.  
There’s something about a film drenched in blues that really brings out the fantasy of the story for me. It feels darker and edgier. It also makes me feel more like the events are a memory than something I’m currently watching. For me, that works. It helps with the suspension of disbelief because I don’t need to consider things like what year it’s taking part in. If there are any inconsistencies to the timeline, it becomes inconsequential.
That blue can also add some serious contrast to the dark reds involved with the bloodshed in action scenes – and there was no lack of blood involved here.

The action was absolutely brutal. There were kills in Yakuza Princess that I have never seen on film as graphically anywhere else. The use of the sword, and its mythology, gave the creators a lot to work with and they didn’t let anything go to waste.
I did find the first part of the film, not including the prologue opening, to be a bit confusing. It helped to generate a great deal of intrigue for the most part, but there were also a few moments where things connected so strangely that I thought I might have missed something. I don’t think it was a huge issue, because it all came together in the end, but it was a touch annoying at the time.
The plot was decent. There were a few relatively expected tropes, but they avoided the worst ones. As a result, Yakuza Princess winds up feeling a bit like an origin story. Maybe we’ll be seeing some sequels in the future. I wouldn’t hate that.
MASUMI (Posse, Run Baby Run, CheckMate) is not an actor I’m familiar with, but she was definitely bad-ass in this flick. She felt like she fit the part well, and I can see her getting even better in the future as she’s allowed to evolve her take on the character. Johnathan Rhys Meyers (The 12th Man, Black Butterfly, London Town) sold that panicked confusion one might feel in a situation where they’ve lost their memory. Even in scenes where it wasn’t the focus, the expressions he wore made sure it was a fact that wasn’t forgotten.
Yakuza Princess was a great action thriller that was every bit of what I expected. If you have the ability to see it safely in theaters, you should. It will be unleashed to cinemas in the US, by Magnet Releasing, September 3.

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating4/5
P.S. Short mid-credit scene
Movie Trailer:

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