Like American film star John Wayne, Ken Takakura has defined the Japanese man and has had a prolific superstar film career, appearing in more than 200 films, shifting from "yakuza" or crime-action fil...
Ikebe, who appeared in more than 150 movies throughout his career, passed away on Friday (08Oct10), his family has confirmed.
He made his acting debut in 1941 movie Togyo (Fighting Fish) but took a brief hiatus to serve in the Japanese military.
He resumed his acting career in 1945 and rose to fame starring in films including Akatsuki no Dasso (Desertion at Dawn), Soshun (Early Spring), and 1949 black and white film Aoi Sanmyaku (The Green Mountains).
In the 1960s and 1970s, he became well-known for starring with actor Ken Takakura in a series of yakuza movies, about the Japanese mafia.
Ikebe received further acclaim as a best-selling writer - his 1991 autobiography Soyokaze toki niwa Tsumujikaze (A Light Breeze and Sometimes a Whirlwind) won a special honour as part of the Japan Literary Awards.
Ikebe last appeared as an actor in 2002 drama series Natsu no Hi no Koi (Love on a Summer's Day), and he continued writing essays for a Tokyo magazine until last year (09).
Starred in Yimou Zhang's "Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles"
Butted heads with Tom Selleck in "Mr. Baseball"
Starred in "Black Rain"
Became star of Japanese mainstream films with "Hakkodasan" and "The Yellow Handkerchief"
Feature film debut in "Denko Karate-uchi"
First appearance in a US feature, "Too Late the Hero"
Like American film star John Wayne, Ken Takakura has defined the Japanese man and has had a prolific superstar film career, appearing in more than 200 films, shifting from "yakuza" or crime-action films to more mainstream fare. He thrice received the Japanese Academy Award as Best Actor and has on occasion appeared in English-language films.
A graduate of Meiji University, Takakura studied commerce, but turned to acting soon after graduation, making his screen debut in 1955 in "Denko Karate-uchi". He toiled for about a decade before becoming a bona fide star with a string of Japanese hits in the mid-60s, more frequently playing men of the current era rather than mythical samurai or heroic icons of the glory days. When legendary Hollywood director Robert Aldrich needed an actor to play the Japanese officer pursuing Cliff Robertson and Michael Caine in "Too Late the Hero" (1970), he turned to Takakura, who stole the picture. He did the same playing a crime boss for Sydney Pollack in his next English-language effort, "The Yakuza" (1975). Takakura did not pursue any ongoing connection with Hollywood, but rather continued to make Japanese hits, including "Eki/Station" (1981), "Antarctica" (1982), and "A Un/Buddies" (1989), films with little release in the West. Hollywood called again in 1989 with "Black Rain", in which Takakura was Andy Garcia's Japanese police connection, and for "Mr. Baseball" (1992), in which Takakura instructs Tom Selleck on how to play an American game in a foreign land.
"Ken Takakura is the most important actor in Japan. He has been the only superstar and undisputed king of Japanese movies. Like John Wayne or James Dean, he is much more than an actor. Takakura is one of the most important forces in post-war Japan: because of the level of popular culture, he singlehandedly redefined the role of the Japanese man for post-war society. In short, he showed Japan how to live in the modern world." --Leonard Schrader, co-writer, "The Yakuza".