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[Fantasia ’21] ‘Yakuza Princess’ review: Exciting action thriller goes as planned

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Yakuza Princess does not waste any time delivering the type of action the title suggests. A number of violent deaths twenty years ago leads into fisticuffs in a hospital. The opening suggests any problems will be solved in the bloodiest ways possible. Akemi (MASUMI) is an orphan who has discovered she is heiress to half of the yakuza crime syndicate. The other half wants her dead while an amnesiac stranger (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) believes their fates are bound. War is inevitable, but who can she trust?

It comes as no surprise that a movie named Yakuza Princess is incredibly violent. While there is a lot of deaths, director Vicente Amorim also shows off his creativity. Early on there is a Copa shot leading to a man being tortured, for example. There are also some nicely choreographed fight scenes throughout. What makes them work so well is Yakuza Princess properly spaces them. Each one is exciting since the audience never gets tired of seeing them.

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Yakuza Princess is more than just gunfights and blood, however. Much of the film takes place in São Paulo, Brazil. These moments do a magnificent job of immersing the audience and almost take on a documentary look. Vivid colors and bright lights fill the night. It is surprising to find this level of detail in a fast paced action movie. It gives anyone watching a chance to take more than just big set pieces.

This gives things an odd tonal feel. The shots of the streets of São Paulo have an almost intimate feel while the rest of the movie is typical fare. This never negatively impacts Yakuza Princess, but it is hard not to notice. The characters are perfectly acceptable for the story Yakuza Princess is telling. There is not much depth to them, but there does not need to be. In the movie’s defense, it also leaves a lot in the dark intentionally in order to build intrigue. As the film picks up speed, the action takes on maximum import and the plot starts to feel rushed. 

In the end, the movie does not try anything new as it checks off all the right boxes for an exciting action thriller. There are some great fight sequences and the characters are intriguing enough. Things seem to move a little too quickly at times, but Yakuza Princess is consistently entertaining. 

Yakuza Princess comes to theaters September 3

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