Daria Gamliel for Cinetalk.net
Akemi can’t concentrate on her martial arts because she’s still plagued by a recent death in the family. Her sensei urges her to keep going. But life in Brazil just doesn’t seem to give her a reason to continue.
Director and co-screenwriter Vicente Amorim turns a spotlight on Brazil’s Japanese community in the violent action-drama, Yakuza Princess. The angry and still grieving young lady has just turned 21, and doesn’t seem to fit in. When necessary, racial slurs and taunts from horny hoodlums cause her to come out of her otherwise well-disciplined poise.
Japanese-American singer and actress, MASUMI (Akemi) performs in an understated, almost bland way through most of the film. However, there is always a tiger waiting to burst into action. When the time comes, her ferocious kiais (battle cries) show much more range. She is fierce in the battle sequences.
Though Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Shiro) is an established actor, his role as a katana-wielding amnesiac is relatively small, even if his character is pivotal to Akemi learning about events from her past. Quietly, he accompanies her to Japan to dig deeper into the concealed family history that may also answer his questions about a soul-eating sword.
Once Akemi learns how she is linked to the yakuza, the blood starts to really fly. It is worth mentioning, the last shot of her from below holding the katana evokes Meiko Kaji in Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (Ito Shunya, 1972) which was a crowd favorite at Fantasia back in the early days of the festival.
Fantasia Film Festival 2020 runs from August 5th to August 25th. 2020.
Yakuza Princess – On Demand from Friday. August 20th, 9AM until Tuesday, August 24th, 9AM.