Chadwick Boseman will play Yasuke, the first African samurai warrior. After his rousing success as Black Panther in the 2018 Oscar-winning film of the same name, it’s safe to say that Boseman’s career has entered a period of heightened activity. The last two years alone have seen the actor star in two major blockbusters, with a future that's increasingly becoming stacked with new opportunities.
Most recently, Boseman has started work on Da 5 Bloods, director Spike Lee’s follow up to last year’s BlacKkKlansman. The film will follow a group of Vietnam veteran friends as they return to the jungle in order to discover their “lost innocence”. While it’s being billed as a drama, the film is actually a reboot of the little known 1988 comedy, The Wrong Guys. As far as Boseman is concerned, however, Lee’s film marks one of three new projects that he’ll be a part of in 2019. In addition to Da 5 Bloods, Boseman will also star as an NYPD detective tasked with hunting a cop killer in this summer’s 21 Bridges.
As for the third project that Boseman is attached to, Deadline has revealed that it'll be something truly original. The 42-year-old star is getting set to play Japan’s first (and only) African samurai in Yasuke. In fact, the true tale of Yasuke marks the only time in history that a non-Asian person was actually given the deeply esteemed title of samurai. At present the film doesn't have a confirmed release date.
Set in 16th century Japan, Yasuke tells the story of the eponymous character, who came to Japan from Portuguese Mozambique as a slave to Jesuit missionaries. After Yasuke attracted the attention of ruthless Japanese warlord Nobunaga, the two men developed a complex relationship that eventually gave way to friendship and the granting of Yasuke’s samurai status. Not only was Yasuke the first non-Asian person to ever be given the title of samurai, but he was also the first black man to set foot on Japanese soil. According to Boseman, Yasuke is more than just an action film: "The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai. That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it.”
This definitely appears to be a step in a new direction for Boseman, whose willingness to explore the action genre can potentially mean success on a new level. From the sound of it - and given the lengthy and complex history of Japan’s samurai culture - there's much to explore in Yasuke. There's a greater responsibility in making a film like this versus a fictitious action movie, and Boseman appears to acknowledge and appreciate that fact. If Yasuke can credibly pull off the numerous histories and cultural issues within this story, the potential for success could be very high.