The Samurai

After the debut of last year’s criminally underseen and severely underrated Warrior, writer and director Gavin O’Connor did manage to find one major silver lining – the adoration of scads of brand new fans who loved his film and wanted to see more of his work. Fortunately, while Warrior went without much of the notice it deserved, O’Connor has not, as the filmmaker has been steadily lining up work in the months since the film hit theaters. Next up, Universal Pictures has picked the director to helm Yakuza, “a contemporary Japan-set thriller” that focuses on “an American intelligence expert who becomes embroiled in the affairs of a notorious yakuza godfather and finds himself plunged into the violent criminal underworld and toxic landscape of post-tsunami Japan.” The film’s script was penned by Chap Taylor (Changing Lanes), but O’Connor will now rewrite it, along with Josh Fagin. Imagine Entertainment and Brian Grazer are producing. While that storyline sounds a bit done-before, setting it in a modern time period adds some intrigue and, paired with O’Connor’s knack for getting emotional performances out of beefy brawlers, Yakuza could end up being something special.

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If I told you a couple years ago that a movie about two MMA-fighting, down-on-their-luck brothers who inexplicably enter into a professional fighting tournament and subsequently beat all of the best in the world to face each other in the finals was really good and you should check it out, you probably would have looked at me like I was stupid. But then Warrior came out, and it had Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton in it, so we checked it out despite the ridiculous premise, and it actually turned out to be a fine little film. It’s funny how the world works. While the performances were definitely my favorite part of Warrior, I must admit that the movie had a subtle touch when dealing with potentially cheesy material, and that went a long way toward keeping me along for the ride. Credit for that, and the casting for that matter, has to be largely given to director Gavin O’Connor. So now this guy finds himself on my radar. I’m going to be following whatever he does next very closely. And according to Deadline Suffolk, the next thing he’s going to be doing is a movie called The Samurai, which he co-wrote with Michael J. Wilson and has sold as a spec script to Warner Bros. for six figures and change.

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