Kinji Fukasaku

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Kinji Fukasaku
深作 欣二
Born(1930-07-03)3 July 1930
Died12 January 2003(2003-01-12) (aged 72)
Tokyo, Japan
  • Film director
  • Screenwriter
Years active1961–2003
TitlePresident of the Directors Guild of Japan
PredecessorNagisa Ōshima
SuccessorYoji Yamada
SpouseSanae Nakahara
ChildrenKenta Fukasaku
AwardsJapan Academy Prize for Director of the Year
1982 Dotonbori River & Fall Guy
1987 House on Fire
1995 Crest of Betrayal

Kinji Fukasaku (深作 欣二, Fukasaku Kinji, 3 July 1930 – 12 January 2003) was a Japanese film director and screenwriter. Known for his "broad range and innovative filmmaking",[1] Fukasaku worked in many different genres and styles, but was best known for his gritty yakuza films, typified by the Battles Without Honor and Humanity series (1973–1976). According to the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, "his turbulent energy and at times extreme violence express a cynical critique of social conditions and genuine sympathy for those left out of Japan's postwar prosperity."[2] He used a cinema verite-inspired shaky camera technique in many of his films from the early 1970s.[3][4]

Fukasaku wrote and directed over 60 films between 1961 and 2003. Some Western sources have associated him with the Japanese New Wave movement of the '60s and '70s, but this belies his commercial success.[5][6] His works include the Japanese portion of the Hollywood war film Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), jidaigeki such as Shogun's Samurai (1978), the space opera Message from Space (1978), the post-apocalyptic science fiction film Virus (1980), the fantasy film Samurai Reincarnation (1981), and the influential dystopian thriller Battle Royale (2000).

Fukasaku won the Japan Academy Film Prize for Director of the Year three times, out of nine total nominations. He served as President of the Directors Guild of Japan from 1996, until his death from prostate cancer in 2003. In 1997, he received the Purple Medal of Honor from the Japanese government for his work in film.[7] His films have inspired directors such as Quentin Tarantino,[8] William Friedkin,[9] and John Woo.[10]

Early life[edit]

Kinji Fukasaku was born in 1930 in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture as the youngest of five children.[11] 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.[12][13]


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.[11]

Fukasaku made his directorial debut in 1961 with the two featurettes Drifting Detective: Tragedy in the Red Valley and Drifting 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.[11] His first film produced in color was Gang vs. G-Men (1962). 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.[11] From 1966 to 1971, he created several modern gang films for Toei usually starring Tsuruta, such as Ceremony of Disbanding (1967), Gambler's Farewell (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.[11]

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.[11] 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.[11]

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 later he directed the acclaimed comedy Fall Guy, which won 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 Violent Cop (1989), but a scheduling conflict caused him to pull out and Takeshi Kitano took over in his first directorial role.[14]

In 2000, Battle Royale was released. The film received positive critical praise and became a major financial success, grossing ¥3.11 billion domestically.[15][16][17] It became a cultural phenomenon, creating the battle royale genre, a fictional narrative genre and/or mode of entertainment in which a select group of people are instructed to kill each off until there is a triumphant survivor.[17] 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 (2002).

Fukasaku announced he had prostate cancer in September 2002.[7] 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.[7] Having directed only a single scene, his son, Kenta took over the film.


Year Title Japanese Romanization
1961 Drifting Detective: Tragedy in the Red Valley
a.k.a. Duel in the Valley
風来坊探偵 赤い谷の惨劇 Fūraibō Tantei: Akai Tani no Sangeki
Drifting Detective: Black Wind in the Harbor 風来坊探偵 岬を渡る黒い風 Fūraibō Tantei: Misaki wo Wataru Kuroi Kaze
Hepcat in the Funky Hat
a.k.a. Man with the Funky Hat
ファンキーハットの快男児 Fankī Hatto no Kaidanji
Hepcat in the Funky Hat: The 20,000,000 Yen Arm ファンキーハットの快男児 2千万円の腕 Fankī Hatto no Kaidanji: Nisenman-en no Ude
High Noon for Gangsters
a.k.a. Greed in Broad Daylight
白昼の無頼漢 Hakuchū no Buraikan
1962 The Proud Challenge 誇り高き挑戦 Hokori Takaki Chōsen
Gang vs. G-Men ギャング対Gメン Gyangu Tai Jī-men
1963 League of Gangsters
a.k.a. Gang Alliance
ギャング同盟 Gyangu Dōmei
1964 Jakoman and Tetsu
a.k.a. One-Eyed Captain and Tetsu
ジャコ萬と鉄 Jakoman to Tetsu
Wolves, Pigs and Men
a.k.a. Wolves, Pigs and People
狼と豚と人間 Ōkami to Buta to Ningen
1966 The Threat 脅迫 Odoshi
Kamikaze Man: Duel at Noon
a.k.a. The Kamikaze Guy
カミカゼ野郎 真昼の決斗 Kamikaze Yarō: Mahiru no Kettō
Rampaging Dragon of the North
a.k.a. North Sea Dragon
北海の暴れ竜 Hokkai no Abare Ryū
1967 Ceremony of Disbanding 解散式 Kaisanshiki
1968 Gambler's Farewell 博徒解散式 Bakuto Kaisanshiki
Black Lizard 黒蜥蝪 Kurotokage
Blackmail Is My Life 恐喝こそわが人生 Kyōkatsu Koso Waga Jinsei
The Green Slime ガンマ3号 宇宙大作戦 Gammā Daisan Gō: Uchū Dai Sakusen
1969 Black Rose Mansion 黒薔薇の舘 Kurobara no Yakata
Japan Organized Crime Boss 日本暴力団 組長 Nihon Bōryoku-dan: Kumichō
1970 Bloodstained Clan Honor
a.k.a. Bloody Gambles
血染の代紋 Chizome no Daimon
If You Were Young: Rage 君が若者なら Kimi ga Wakamono Nara
Tora! Tora! Tora! トラ・トラ・トラ! Tora Tora Tora!
1971 Sympathy for the Underdog 博徒外人部隊 Bakuto Gaijin Butai
1972 Under the Flag of the Rising Sun 軍旗はためく下に Gunki Hatameku Moto ni
Street Mobster 現代やくざ 人斬り与太 Gendai Yakuza: Hitokiri Yota
Outlaw Killers: Three Mad Dog Brothers 人斬り与太・狂犬三兄弟 Hitokiri Yota: Kyōken San Kyōdai
1973 Battles Without Honor and Humanity
a.k.a. The Yakuza Papers (Volume 1)
仁義なき戦い Jinginaki Tatakai
Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima
a.k.a. The Yakuza Papers: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima (Volume 2)
仁義なき戦い 広島死闘篇 Jinginaki Tatakai: Hiroshima Shitō-hen
Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Proxy War
a.k.a. The Yakuza Papers: Proxy War (Volume 3)
仁義なき戦い 代理戦争 Jinginaki Tatakai: Dairi Sensō
1974 Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Police Tactics
a.k.a. The Yakuza Papers: Police Tactics (Volume 4)
仁義なき戦い 頂上作戦 Jinginaki Tatakai: Chōjō Sakusen
Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Final Episode
a.k.a. The Yakuza Papers: Final Episode (Volume 5)
仁義なき戦い 完結篇 Jinginaki Tatakai: Kanketsu-hen
New Battles Without Honor and Humanity 新仁義なき戦い Shin Jinginaki Tatakai
1975 Graveyard of Honor 仁義の墓場 Jingi no Hakaba
Cops vs. Thugs
a.k.a. Police vs. Violence Groups
県警対組織暴力 Kenkei tai Soshiki Bōryoku
Gambling Den Heist
a.k.a. Cross the Rubicon!
資金源強奪 Shikingen Gōdatsu
New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: The Boss's Head 新仁義なき戦い 組長の首 Shin Jinginaki Tatakai: Kumichō no Kubi
1976 Violent Panic: The Big Crash 暴走パニック 大激突 Bōsō Panikku: Dai Gekitotsu
New Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Last Days of the Boss 新仁義なき戦い 組長最後の日 Shin Jinginaki Tatakai: Kumichō Saigo no Hi
Yakuza Graveyard
a.k.a. Yakuza Burial: Jasmine Flower
やくざの墓場 くちなしの花 Yakuza no Hakaba: Kuchinashi no Hana
1977 Hokuriku Proxy War 北陸代理戦争 Hokuriku Dairi Sensō
Doberman Cop ドーベルマン刑事 Dōberman Deka
1978 Shogun's Samurai
a.k.a. Yagyu Clan Conspiracy
柳生一族の陰謀 Yagyū Ichizoku no Inbō
Message from Space 宇宙からのメッセージ Uchū Kara no Messēji
The Fall of Ako Castle 赤穂城断絶 Akōjō Danzetsu
1980 Virus 復活の日 Fukkatsu no Hi
1981 The Gate of Youth 青春の門 Seishun no Mon
Samurai Reincarnation 魔界転生 Makai Tenshō
1982 Dotonbori River
a.k.a. Lovers Lost
道頓堀川 Dōtonborigawa
Fall Guy 蒲田行進曲 Kamata Kōshin Kyoku
1983 Theater of Life (directed one of three segments) 人生劇場 Jinsei Gekijō
Legend of the Eight Samurai 里見八犬伝 Satomi Hakkenden
1984 Shanghai Rhapsody 上海バンスキング Shanghai Bansu Kingu
1986 House on Fire 火宅の人 Kataku no Hito
1987 Sure Death 4: Revenge 必殺4 恨みはらします Hissatsu Fō: Urami Harashimasu
1988 A Chaos of Flowers 華の乱 Hana no Ran
1992 The Triple Cross
a.k.a. The Day's Too Bright
いつかギラギラする日 Itsuka Giragira Suru Hi
1994 Crest of Betrayal
a.k.a. Loyal 47 Ronin: Yotsuya Ghost Story
忠臣蔵外伝 四谷怪談 Chūshingura Gaiden: Yotsuya Kaidan
1995 The Abe Clan 阿部一族 Abe Ichizoku
1997 The Eaters 20世紀末黙示録 もの食う人びと Nijusseikimatsu Mokushiroku: Mono kuu Hitobito
1998 The Geisha House おもちゃ Omocha
2000 Battle Royale バトル・ロワイアル Batoru Rowaiaru
2003 Battle Royale II: Requiem (directed one scene) バトル・ロワイヤル II: 【鎮魂歌】 Batoru Rowaiaru Tsū: "Rekuiemu"

Episodes of television series[edit]

Video game[edit]



  1. ^ Magnier, Mark (17 January 2001). "Looking Back at Work of Kinji Fukasaku, Beyond 'Green Slime'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 24 October 2022. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  2. ^ "Kinji Fukasaku: Sympathy For The Underdog". BAMPFA. Archived from the original on 24 October 2022. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  3. ^ Berra, John (2010). Directory of World Cinema: Japan (1st ed.). Bristol, UK: Intellect Books. p. 115. ISBN 978-1-84150-335-6.
  4. ^ Jane, Ian (30 January 2004). "Battle Royale II (Region 3)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 23 March 2012.
  5. ^ RetroRobin (25 June 2017). "The Japanese New Wave Film Rebellion". Into The Retroscope. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  6. ^ "Kinji Fukasaku • Retrospective". Time Out Paris. Retrieved 30 April 2018. His loose affiliation with the '60s New Wave of Japanese arthouse cinema belies Kinji Fukasaku's raw commercial appeal.
  7. ^ a b c "Renowned director Fukasaku, of 'Battle Royale' fame, dies". The Japan Times. 13 January 2003. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  8. ^ "Kinji Fukasaku • Retrospective". Time Out. 21 November 2016. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  9. ^ "William Friedkin on Kinji Fukasaku". YouTube. Archived from the original on 12 December 2021. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Kinji Fukasaku -- director of graphic, provocative films". SFGATE. 28 January 2003. Retrieved 6 October 2022.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Schilling, Mark (2003). The Yakuza Movie Book: A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films. Stone Bridge Press. pp. 43–45. ISBN 1-880656-76-0. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007.
  12. ^ Kinji Fukasaku profile,; accessed 20 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Kinji Fukasaku, 72; Japanese Director of Edgy, Violent Films". Los Angeles Times. 27 January 2003. Retrieved 22 August 2014.
  14. ^ Schilling, Mark (2003). The Yakuza Movie Book : A Guide to Japanese Gangster Films. Stone Bridge Press. p. 39. ISBN 1-880656-76-0. Archived from the original on 17 October 2007.
  15. ^ "Violent movie opens despite protest". The Japan Times. 17 December 2000. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  16. ^ J.T., Testar (June 2002). "Japan Goes to the Movies" (PDF). The Journal. p. 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 8 January 2007.
  17. ^ a b "The Japanese Thriller That Explains 'Fortnite' and American Pop Culture in 2018". The Ringer. 19 July 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d e "Awards for Battle Royale (2000)". IMDb. Retrieved 24 March 2012.
  19. ^ "12TH HORROR AND FANTASY FILM FESTIVAL (2001)". History Awards. San Sebastian Horror & Fantasy Film Festival. 2001. Retrieved 28 March 2012.

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