by Chris MaGee
To say that Koji Yakusho is one of Japan's most talented actors is a bit of an undertsatement. From his career defining roles in the moody horror films of Kiyoshi Kurosawa through his comedic roles in films like Mamoru Hoshi's "University of Laughs" to his own amazing work in his own directorial debut "Toad's Oil" Yakusho now follows in the tradition of such great talents as Takashi Shimura, Toshiro Mifune and Yusaku Matsuda as one of the greats of the Japanese screen. Now news has come out that 55-year-old Yakusho will be stretching his formidable talents even further by playing the role of a key player in the Pacific War.
Tokyograph is reporting that Yakusho has just begun shooting on a new film titled "Rengo Kantai Shirei Chokan: Yamamoto Isoroku" which tells the story of AdmiralIsoroku Yamamoto (above right), the commander-in-chief of Japan's Imperial Navy from 1940 to 1943. It was Yamamoto who was in charge when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December of 194i, and Yamamoto subsequently led the Imperial Navy throughout the Pacific campaign until his death in Solomon Islands two years later.
Izuru Narushima, the director of "A Lone Scalpel" and "Love Fight" will helm this ¥1 billion war epic, and producers had something very interesting to say about Narushima's and Yakusho's work on the film. The Tokyograph post quotes the film's producers as saying that they believe their depiction of Yamamoto will be of "what a Japanese leader should be." Interesting... given that Japan has cycled through five prime ministers in as many years, and current PM Naoto Kan has come under ferocious criticism for his handling, or mishandling, of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
Japanese audiences can expect to see "Rengo Kantai Shirei Chokan: Yamamoto Isoroku" hit theatres on December 23rd of this year.