Kinji Fukasaku: Film director (1930-2003) (1930 - 2003)
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Kinji Fukasaku
Film director

Kinji Fukasaku

Kinji Fukasaku
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Film director
Was Film director Screenwriter Film producer Actor
From Japan
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 3 July 1930, Mito, Japan
Death 12 January 2003, Tokyo, Japan (aged 72 years)
Star sign Cancer
Spouse: Sanae Nakahara
Children: Kenta Fukasaku
Nihon University
Japan Academy Prize  
Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year 1983
Medal with Purple Ribbon 1997
Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year 1987
The details (from wikipedia)


Kinji Fukasaku (深作 欣二, Fukasaku Kinji, 3 July 1930 – 12 January 2003) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter who rose to prominence for his association with the Japanese New Wave.

He is known for directing the Japanese portion of the Hollywood war film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), yakuza films including the seminal Battles Without Honor and Humanity (1973), samurai period pieces such as Shogun's Samurai (1978), the space opera Message from Space (1978), the fantasy film Samurai Reincarnation (1981), and his controversial final film Battle Royale (2000). He was also known for his trademark, cinema verite-inspired shaky camera technique, which he used extensively in many of his films from the early 1970s.

In 1997, he received the Purple Medal of Honor from the Japanese government for his work in film.

Early life

Kinji Fukasaku was born in 1930 in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture as the youngest of five children. When he was 15 years old, Fukasaku's class was drafted, and he worked as a munitions worker during World War II. In July 1945, the class was caught in bombing. Since the children could not escape the bombs, they had to dive under each other in order to survive. The surviving members of the class had to dispose of the corpses. After the war, he spent much of his time watching foreign films.


Fukasaku studied cinema at Nihon University, in the country's first film department, before switching to the literature department for scriptwriting his junior year. There he studied under Kogo Noda and Katsuhito Inomata. After graduating in 1953, Fukasaku became an assistant director at Toei in June 1954, where he worked under people such as Masahiro Makino and Yasushi Sasaki.

Fukasaku made his directorial debut in 1961 with the two featurettes Wandering Detective: Tragedy in Red Valley and Wandering Detective: Black Wind in the Harbor, starring Sonny Chiba. His first feature-length film for the New Toei subsidiary was High Noon for Gangsters that same year. His first film for the Toei Company proper was The Proud Challenge the following year starring Kōji Tsuruta. He had his breakthrough hit in 1964 with Ken Takakura starring in Jakoman and Tetsu. His first film produced in color was Kamikaze Man: Showdown at Noon (1966). From 1966 to 1971, he created several modern gang films for Toei usually starring Tsuruta, such as Kaisanshiki (1967), Bakuto Kaisanshiki (1968) and Japan Organized Crime Boss (1969).

Thanks to a non-exclusive contract, he also directed Black Lizard, based on Yukio Mishima's stage adaptation of the Edogawa Rampo novel, and Black Rose Mansion for Shochiku both of which starred the transvestite actor Akihiro Miwa. In 1968 he directed The Green Slime, a United States-Japan science fiction co-production.

In 1970, Fukasaku was recruited to direct the Japanese portion of another US-Japan film, Tora! Tora! Tora!, after Akira Kurosawa pulled out. Using his pay from the project, he bought the rights to adapt Under the Flag of the Rising Sun. The movie was critically acclaimed, even being selected as Japan's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 45th Academy Awards in 1972, although it was not accepted as a nominee. That year also saw the release of Street Mobster starring Bunta Sugawara, which resulted in Toei producer Koji Shundo selecting Fukasaku to direct a groundbreaking yakuza film. Battles Without Honor and Humanity was released in 1973. Up to this point, Japan's many yakuza films had usually been tales of chivalry set in the pre-war period, but Fukasaku's ultra-violent, documentary-style film took place in chaotic post-War Hiroshima. A commercial and critical success, it gave rise to seven sequels by Fukasaku and three movies that are based on the series but directed by others. After directing several more yakuza films, Graveyard of Honor (1975), Cops vs. Thugs (1975), Yakuza Graveyard (1976), and Hokuriku Proxy War (1977), Fukasaku left the genre.

He focused on historical epics; Shogun's Samurai (1978), The Fall of Ako Castle (1978), Samurai Reincarnation (1981); and science fiction; Message from Space (1978) and Virus (1980). Virus was Japan's most expensive production at the time, and became a financial flop. However, two years after it he directed the highly acclaimed comedy Fall Guy, winning both the Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year and Kinema Junpo Award for Best Film of the Year. Fukasaku was chosen to direct 1989's Violent Cop, but a scheduling conflict caused him to pull out and Takeshi Kitano took over in his first directorial role.

Near the end of his life, Fukasaku branched out into the world of video games by serving as the director of the Capcom/Sunsoft survival horror game Clock Tower 3. In 2000, Battle Royale was released. The highly controversial film received positive critical praise and became a major financial success, grossing ¥3.11 billion domestically.

Fukasaku announced he had prostate cancer in September 2002. In late December 2002, shortly after filming began on Battle Royale II: Requiem, he was hospitalized when his condition worsened. Fukasaku died at a Tokyo hospital on 12 January 2003, aged 72. Having directed only a single scene, his son, Kenta took over the film.


  • 1974 Kinema Junpo Reader's Choice Award for Best Film - Battles Without Honor and Humanity
  • 1976 Blue Ribbon Award for Best Director - Graveyard of Honor, Cops vs. Thugs
  • 1982 Hochi Film Award for Best Film - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year - Fall Guy, Dotonbori River
  • 1983 Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Blue Ribbon Award for Best Film - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Blue Ribbon Award for Best Director - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Mainichi Film Award for Best film - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Mainichi Film Award for Best Director - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Mainichi Film Award Reader's Choice Award - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Kinema Junpo Reader's Choice Award for Best Film - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Kinema Junpo Reader's Choice Award for Best Director - Fall Guy
  • 1983 Kinema Junpo Reader's Choice Award for Best Film - Fall Guy
  • 1985 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year - Legend of the Eight Samurai, Shanghai Rhapsody
  • 1987 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year - House on Fire
  • 1987 Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year - House on Fire
  • 1987 Kinema Junpo Reader's Choice Award for Best Film - House on Fire
  • 1993 Yokohama Film Festival Special Prize - career
  • 1994 Nikkan Sports Film Award for Best Director - Crest of Betrayal
  • 1995 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year - Crest of Betrayal
  • 1995 Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year - Crest of Betrayal
  • 1999 Nikkan Sports Film Award for Best Director - The Geisha House
  • 2001 Japan Academy Prize Popularity Award - Battle Royale
  • 2001 Japan Academy Prize for Director of the Year (Nomination) - Battle Royale
  • 2001 Japan Academy Prize for Picture of the Year (Nomination) - Battle Royale
  • 2001 Blue Ribbon Award for Best Film - Battle Royale
  • 2001 Sitges Film Festival for Best Film (Nomination) - Battle Royale
  • 2001 San Sebastián Horror & Fantasy Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature Film - Battle Royale
  • 2003 Japan Academy Prize Special Award - career
  • 2003 Blue Ribbon Award Special Award - career
  • 2004 Mainichi Film Award Special Award - career
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 30 Mar 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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