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05/24, Cinema Topics Online.

Fixated on Real Hits; Aiming at New Action.
An Interview with Sakaguchi Taku

He’s handled the leading roles in Versus and Battlefield Baseball with ease. In collaborations with Kitamura Ryûhei and Yamaguchi Yûdai、 he’s performed both comic and stylish roles. Lately, as a full-blown action director he’s received high praise for such television productions as Be-Bop High School and Satomi Hakkenden and has performed as an actor while also handling serious action direction. Today, Sakaguchi Taku is a performer worthy of notice, and after close to ten years of pursuing the goal of action film production with director Shimomura Yûji their collaborative work is finally complete.

Article by Togawa Yasuhiro.

period and contemporary sword fighting; boxing, particularly Eight Extremities Fist; Shorinji Kempo; professional class skills in kickboxing; holds a professional boxing license.

Sakaguchi Taku (Tak Sakaguchi). Special skills: period and contemporary sword fighting; boxing, particularly Eight Extremities Fist; Shorinji Kempo; professional class skills in kickboxing; holds a professional boxing license.

Director Shimomura Yûji, who came in to the interview halfway through.  Due to work circumstances, the director could not attend the overseas film festivals and Sakaguchi was the solo guest.  When asked if he was lonely, he complained, “Film festivals are surely something the director should go to.”  Overseas the estimation of the film was quite high; already it’s being said that this is an action film only the Japanese could have made.

Director Shimomura Yûji, who came in to the interview halfway through. Due to work circumstances, the director could not attend the overseas film festivals and Sakaguchi was the solo guest. When asked if he was lonely, he complained, “Film festivals are surely something the director should go to.” Overseas the estimation of the film was quite high; already it’s being said that this is an action film only the Japanese could have made.

How did you happen to meet the director?

It was when I was about twenty, before an independent film festival, I think. Producer Kurata (※Kurata Yasuaki, an action star who has taken part in Hong Film films and the like, and who had sponsored a production) was there. I had met him by chance at a JAC training hall and together we made an action film. That work, which I’d taken part in, was shown at the film festival.

And there, from that chance encounter, Versus was born, right?

That’s right. It was at that one festival that I met with directors Kitamura Ryûhei and Yamaguchi Yûdai and all the other members. At that time, Shimomura Yûji and Yamaguchi Yûdai had gotten to be friends, and I was introduced to Yamaguchi through Shimomura.

The action you did with Shimomura for Shinobi: Heart Under Blade was really incredible.

That scene was a single shot, but what was actually used was segmented. The single shot version is much more interesting. ※Shinobi: Heart Under Blade features Shimomura Yûji as action director and Sakaguchi Taku in the role of Yashamaru.

What were your duties in this film?

Well, because I don’t really like the director’s fights, even during Versus I would think about my part and come up with fights. But because I’m always doing that, and because I understand the director really well but I’m just an actor, to that extent my workload was immense. Concerning the action, I thought about it before going into shooting and before the individual days of shooting.

What’s your favorite scene?

It’s not a specific place in the film, but when I was thinking about using the action film bible, taking in various things from jujitsu, I adopted totally new things for the guns and action, etc. From here on out, people who make action films can participate in them, I think.

What was your influence on the film?

First of all, I wanted to film action with real hits; the director was planning to film something “that had never been seen before; an action film that only the Japanese could make.” This time, I received advice from the director on the scenarios, however in the end we didn’t wind up doing things that I just said; I made up scenarios together with the director and with the staff around us. I thought about what to do from scenarios I received. Also, during casting, I recommended Suga Takamasa, a very close friend of mine who I had worked with on films like Cromartie High: The Movie and Tebana Sankichi and Shirô Twice: North Zero Years and who is a wonderful actor, to the director.

A fixation with real hits…

Shimomura isn’t really fixated on real hits; I’m the only one who’s fixated on them. Lately the audience is excited by the raw action that they see in PRIDE, K-1, and the like, and because of that when I was thinking about new things to adopt for the film I got to thinking about trying to adopt real hits from things like jujitsu. I did real hitting action in Be-Bop High School (action director: Sakaguchi Taku). On television it was revolutionary and I got scolded. As far as the action scenes are concerned, the grade went up quite a bit. I wanted to do something even more radical, but just barely, you know?

Link.

Notes:
Information about PRIDE and K-1 can be accessed via links in the OCN translation.

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