By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Fantasia Film Festival 2021
Available Aug 18 & 20, 2021
to Stream On Demand
Coming to theatres & VOD
on Sept 3rd. Please check local listings.
Tickets can be purchased here
There is no honour amongst thieves in the families vying for absolute leadership in Yakuza Princess. This stylish neo-noir revenge thriller establishes that a very young girl, Akemi, will inherit a regime. But after a huge assassination attempt to which many members of the Takikawa clan get slain, she’s taken into hiding.
Instead of a feudal setting, this story by Vicente Amorim (director), Kimi Lee, Tubaldini Shelling and Fernando Toste (writers) sets the tale in modern times and in a world not everyone is familiar with. Akemi (MASUMI) is all grown up now and is being hunted in São Paulo, Brazil. She doesn’t know why until she questions a few people and learns about her heritage. Those that are after her knows she’s the true heir of the Yakuza crime syndicate. They won’t settle for controlling half of the organization and need to dispose of her.
The Blade Runner-like colour palette in the cinematography makes this work based on Samurai Shiro by Danilo Beyruth (Amazon USA link) even more compelling. I believe it also translates the psychology of this underground world over well. There are plenty of icy hearts going around, but as for Akemi, there’s some compassion. One side of the Yakuza doesn’t care about the old ways and the other believes tradition must be first and foremost.
I loved the exotic Neo Tokyo style world this tale takes place in. The visual presentation also includes controlling how people die. The blood splatter looks very digital, and it’s done for a good reason—to make the slice and dice a Gekiga manga come to life.
Akemi accepts a gaijin (Rhys Meyers) to mentor her. Although he doesn’t remember a thing (he was mugged and lost his memory), we see that they’re both honourable. As this foreigner starts to remember a few things, one fact he doesn’t forget is that he and the young woman serve the traditions which the family katana represents. But can they help each other? That’s tough to say. She’s quick to trust and as for avoiding being killed herself, she’s not that good with this Muramasa blade yet. One challenge lies in realizing there’s a traitor in the midst.
Plus, the war is just beginning. If that means another film. I’m all for it.
4 Stars out of 5