The generic motion flick “Yakuza Princess” begins with a daring declaration of intent: an on-screen textual content tells us that we’re now in São Paulo, Brazil, particularly a neighborhood that hosts “the biggest Japanese neighborhood on this planet.” That spotlight-grabbing assertion guarantees a stage of authenticity—or possibly cultural specificity—that the following film, in regards to the heiress to an unlimited yakuza crime empire, doesn’t ship.
“Yakuza Princess” usually devolves into the type of clichés and stereotypes that will make American comedian e-book writers of the 1970s blush, as a result of these tropes have been already cheesy after they have been beforehand ripped off from the various Japanese yakuza dramas of that interval. And but, “Yakuza Princess” is predicated on Samurai Shiro, a current comedian e-book, and it nonetheless options lots of jive in regards to the bygone period of chivalry and honor.
Two protagonists search for details about their respective pasts: Akemi (Masumi) desires to be taught extra about her grandfather, a now-dead crime boss; and Shiro (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is an amnesiac with a sword. These two tales ultimately come collectively, however solely after Akemi and Shiro meet up, uncover that Shiro’s sword belonged to Akemi’s grandfather, and in addition be taught of a decent-sized conspiracy to search out and kill Akemi. The Japanese mob is at battle with itself in São Paulo, although it’s usually arduous to know why there and why now primarily based solely on “Yakuza Princess.”
Most of Akemi and Shiro’s respective tales look like hand-me-downs after a long time of films and comedian books in regards to the legendary yakuza, a shadowy group that almost all of us solely know from pulp fiction. Byronic tattooed gangsters have change into a generic sort over time, to the purpose the place you’ll be able to solely inform a lot a couple of films that defines itself with dialogue like “Within the age of the samurai, honor was all the pieces. In contrast to immediately.”
Shiro appears stunned, however not displeased to be a part of this macho lineage, although he doesn’t say a lot together with his phrases (he’s virtually a mute). He principally floats round and helps Akemi get in contact together with his sword, which is absolutely her sword, and was additionally designed by the legendary swordsmith Muramasa. Later, we’re advised that every Muramasa sword “has a demon lurking inside.” Akemi doesn’t appear to care about that, or something, actually, besides studying extra about her pop-pop.
The solutions that Akemi seeks are principally discovered throughout somber chats with jaded gangsters, all of whom converse in regards to the previous prefer it was, actually, a unique time. Shiro will get a short historical past lesson from two older gents who occur to be watching video footage of a 3rd man committing seppuku, an act of ritualized suicide. “His clan was decimated,” in accordance with the primary gentleman. “That is the one manner he can protect his honor,” says the second. Just a few different supporting characters additionally stroll and speak like this, particularly petty villain Kojiro (Eijiro Ozaki), who desires no matter what Akemi has, and world-weary antihero Takeshi (Tsuyoshi Ihara), who has satisfaction, however, can be drained. “You’ll by no means know what it’s preferred to die with honor,” Takeshi says. “Time of honor is over,” yells Kojiro. Moderately, now could be the “time of loss of life.”
Most scenes in “Yakuza Princess” look low cost, regardless of some consummately moody lighting and brassy-looking silver-blue digital camera filters. There’s lots of strolling and speaking, however, this factor by no means actually strikes quickly sufficient, not even throughout its motion scenes. Talking of: there are just a few worthwhile set items in “Yakuza Princess” since extra punches are pulled than thrown, and it’s usually sort of arduous to see, not to mention respect the fighters’ synchronized actions. One combat stands out, the one the place Takeshi and Akemi fend off a pair of martial artists sporting Bruce Lee yellow jumpsuits. These guys presumably wished to point out off their strikes, so this brawl is a bit more coherent and rather less frantic than standard.
The remainder of “Yakuza Princess” isn’t as thrilling. Toes are dragged, throats are cleared, and a few types of blood is spilled, although solely after some extra goofy dialogue like “The katana has discovered you. You and it are one now, as you are supposed to be. Go, now. Your life is determined by it.” I don’t know what the Japanese residents of São Paulo are like, however, “Yakuza Princess” suggests they aren’t very explicit.
Now enjoying in theaters and out there on demand.