Vicente Amorim, Kimi Lee, Tubaldini Shelling, Fernando Toste
MASUMI ., Tsuyoshi Ihara, Eijiro Ozaki, Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Sao Paulo, Brazil is the largest Japanese diasporic community in the world, home to over 1.6 million Japanese-Brazilians and many former Japanese residents. Among them is Akemi (Japanese-American singer MASUMI), a young Japanese woman raised in Brazil and trained since childhood in martial arts and sword fighting by the benevolent but strict Chiba (Toshiji Takeshima). Akemi knows nothing of her heritage or her family, and yearns to break free and find her own way in the world – but her family's past will soon catch up to her. Elsewhere in a Sao Paulo hospital lies the mysterious Shiro (Johnathan Rhys-Meyers), badly wounded and an amnesiac, with only an antique Japanese sword to provide any answers to the riddles of who he is and how he got there. The two mysteries will soon intersect and the criminal underworld will be rocked by the answers the pair uncover together. And it won't be pretty.
Danilo Beyruth's graphic novel Yakuza Princess was just begging to be made into an extremely kick-ass action movie, and thankfully director Vicente Amorim (MOTORRAD) has heeded the call and made this one of this year's standouts. The plotline sounds familiar, but the Brazilian backdrop, Amorim's excellent visual design and the extremely appealing performances of MASUMI and Meyers take what could have been the same-old, same-old revenge story and make it fresh again. The Japanese-Sao Paulo setting – rarely, if ever, portrayed in English-language movies – brings a ton of flavour and makes for an exciting world to bring this story to life in. Add to all this is great badass Tsuyoshi Ihara (13 ASSASSINS) and YAKUZA PRINCESS is everything you want in a movie with that title and more. – Matthew Kiernan
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