Sega’s ‘Yakuza’ Video Game Series Is Reportedly Getting A Live-Action Adaptation

Attendees at the 2016 Tokyo Game Show take pictures of Sega's Yakuza 6-inspired booth.
Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Sega’s long-running, action-adventure/beat ’em up series Yakuza is reportedly heading to the big screen in the form of a live-action, cinematic adaptation. According to Variety, the iconic video game developer is teaming up with 1212 Entertainment and Wild Sheep Content to bring the franchise’s stylized world to life.

Although 1212 and Wild Sheep are reportedly still looking for writers to create a script, Erik Barmack (Netflix’s Dark), Roberto Grande (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark) and Joshua Long (Scary Stories, 1983) are already attached to the project as producers.

After Sonic the Hedgehog, which has been Sega’s flagship series dating back to its first entry for the Mega Drive/Genesis in 1991, Yakuza — which is known as Ryū ga Gotoku, or “Like a Dragon” in Japan — has been the company’s best-selling game franchise. It has moved more than 12 million cumulative units as of November of 2019, according to a release published by Famitsu, as translated by Google.

Yakuza made its debut on Sony’s PlayStation 2 console in 2005. The series is currently slated to make its return to the PS4 and PS5 in November 2020 with a new, mainline installment titled Yakuza: Like a Dragon, which will see the gameplay shift from beat ’em up-style combat to a turn-based, RPG-like experience.

The games came into being as a result of creator Toshihiro Nagoshi’s desire to provide an experience that would chronicle the lives of people involved with organized crime syndicates in Japan. They have largely been set in a fictionalized version of Tokyo’s Kabukichō district known as Kamurocho, while following the exploits of Kazuma Kiryu from the Tojo Clan.

In the first Yakuza, Kiryu takes the fall for the killing of his family’s patriarch in order to protect his sworn brother and subsequently serves a 10-year prison sentence. He is later forced back into the yakuza lifestyle when the equivalent of $100 million is stolen from his clan’s vault, which prompts a massive search involving the whole of the Japanese underworld.

That game was previously adapted into a full-length feature in the form of 2007’s Japanese-language release of Like a Dragon: The Movie.

Attendees at the 2016 Tokyo Game Show play Yakuza 6 on the PlayStation 4.
  Yuya Shino / Getty Images

Per Variety, Yakuza has been acclaimed by critics and fans alike for its story and character-driven plot, as well as its portrayal of the real-life yakuza, and their history, code of ethics, criminal enterprises and other unique characteristics.

Yakuza offers us a new playground in which to set compelling stories with complex characters in a unique environment that audiences have rarely seen before,” 1212 said in a statement. “The saga of Kazuma Kiryu has a built-in cinematic appeal – a mix of kinetic action with bursts of comedy, multiple converging storylines, and a gripping journey towards redemption.”

As reported earlier this year by The Inquisitr, Sega also has another Sonic film in development, after the titular character’s entry into the cinematic realm proved surprisingly successful.