It is with a heavy heart that we report the pasing of another Japanese film legend; tough guy Ken Takakura has died following a battle with Lymphoma.
A prolific actor with over 200 screen credits in his over 50 years in the entertainment industry, Takakura is probably best known for his work in the West for his role in Ridley Scott’s Black Rain opposite Michael Douglas and for his role in The Yakuza opposite Robert Mitchum. Japanese films fans will recognize him from the numerous tough guy roles he inhabited and the intimidatingly forceful performances that was his hallmark. His final film was Dearest from director Yasuo Furuhata in 2012 which was followed by his retreat into privacy after his diagnosis.
Truly one of the more recognizable Japanese names and faces to an international audience, Takakura would work in genre films like The Bullet Train as well as art pictures like Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles by Chinese auteur Zhang Yimou. Looking back, the last film I visited starring Takakura was the first Abarashi Bangaichi film from director Teruo Ishii a mere 3 weeks ago. Spawning numerous sequels, the film heralded an amazing talent, and while he has had better performances in the years since, his rawness and exuberant screen presence is undeniably commanding.
So sit back and enjoy a film from one of the most influential actors in Japanese history; the world may have gotten just a bit less tough, but we’ll remember him as the man’s man he was on screen.