Lionsgate to develop action-drama on first Black Samurai ‘Yasuke’

Yasuke, believed to be the first black samurai ever, is about to be featured in full-length action film adaptation.

Lionsgate is bringing Asian history to the big screen with this cultural crossover tale that occurred in the 1500s when a man of African descent was accepted as the first black Samurai.

Dubbed “Yasuke” by the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga, Yasuke fought for Nobunaga’s army from 1581-1582.

Per Shadow and Act:

Yasuke is said to have arrived in Japan in 1579 in the service of an Italian Jesuit named Alessandro Valignano, and caused something of a sensation because of his black skin, which was still foreign to the Japanese at the time. It’s said that, in one event, several people were crushed to death while clamoring to get a look at him. In Japan, he met warlord Nobunaga who suspected that the dark color of his skin was ink and not natural. Nobunaga reportedly had him strip from the waist up and made him scrub his skin. Satisfied that he was in fact black, Nobunaga took deep interest in Yasuke eventually, and he was allowed to enter Nobunaga’s service, which is when available documentation on Yasuke’s life seems to really begin.

“Black Samurai is based on the true story of an African whose journey to Japan comes with conflicting background stories,” the film’s scriptwriter Gregory Widen was quoted as saying.

“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.”

No other details, including the release date and cast, have been made known yet.