A fascinating story about the first black samurai is being adapted into a feature-length action drama by Lionsgate Entertainment.
Shadow and Act has reported that the upcoming film will tell the story of Yasuke—a black samurai who lived in Japan in the 14th century and served under the Japanese ruler Oda Nobunaga. Historical accounts say that Yasuke could have originated from present-day Mozambique, Ethiopia or Angola. It’s said that upon his arrival in Japan, people were enamored by his presence, as he was the first black person that many had ever seen. He eventually worked his way up the ranks to become one of Nobunaga’s most prized warriors.
“Black Samurai is based on the true story of an African whose journey to Japan comes with conflicting background stories,” Gregory Widen, the film’s scriptwriter, tells Deadline. “The one I’ve chosen is that he was a slave soldier after the fall of Abysinnian Bengal, a black kingdom run by Ethiopians. He was sold into slavery and found himself in the care of Alessandro Valignano, an Italian missionary. They formed a bond, and when there were complications in Rome, he was sent to Japan and took Yasuke with him. There he met Oda Nobunaga, who was interested in all Western things, and through a series of bizarre events, the Jesuit left Yasukie with the warlord.”
There isn’t too much known about Yasuke, but one things that historians have all agreed on, is that he was 100 percent black—I feel obligated to point this out given Hollywood’s track record with historically black narratives. It’ll be exciting to find out which black actor gets tapped for the role.
Lionsgate hasn’t set a release date as of yet, but remain on the lookout for what—if done properly—is sure to be a captivating production.