Bad and Bushido: Real Black Samurai Film in the Making
BY: ALEXIS ARNOLD
Afro-Samurai fans rejoice! Lionsgate has announced that a film is in the works that is based on the life and legend of the real black samurai, Yasuke. The project is currently called “Black Samurai” and is slated to be written by “Highlander” creator Gregory Widen. It will be co-produced by Michael De Luca, who worked on the “Social Network” and Stephen L’Heureux, a producer of “Sin City.”
Yasuke was an African who served as a samurai under Oda Nobunaga, the Japanese warlord. He was believed to have lived during the 1500s and could have come from Mozambique, Angola, or Ethiopia. Unfortunately, there is no record of his original name and several conflicting background stories floating around. In an interview with Deadline.com, Widen said he chose the story where Yasuke was a soldier from an Ethiopian kingdom who was sold into slavery and taken into the care of an Italian Jesuit missionary. The missionary is then sent to Japan and, through a bizarre series of events, leaves Yasuke with the warlord.
Most of the documentation about Yasuke’s life begins with his service to Nobunaga. The six-foot tall black man was an intimidating presence to the Japanese, who had never seen anyone like him before. There is even a tale about the Japanese attempting to scrub Yasuke’s skin because they believed the color might come off. His strength and pleasant demeanor allowed him to rise rapidly through the ranks until he became Nobunaga's chief warrior and bodyguard. He was even given his own residence and learned to speak Japanese fluently.
However, Yasuke’s samurai career was short-lived. He was forced to flee Nobunaga's castle after the warlord committed ceremonial suicide because he was defeated by one of his own generals during a coup. This action-drama will keep as true to the accepted narrative as possible, but with so little actually known about the mysterious Yasuke, there is a lot of room for creative liberties and the potential for an amazing film.