Japan sadly bid farewell to one of the true giants of modern cinema when it was revealed today that Takakura Ken died of lymphoma on November 10 at the age of 83. Takakura made his name as the stoic star of gangster movies in a career that had many comparing him to a Japanese version of Clint Eastwood. The two never appeared together but Takakura did achieve western recognition alongside other Hollywood stars, notably Robert Mitchum in “The Yakuza”, Michael Douglas in “Black Rain” and Tom Selleck in “Mr. Baseball.” He continued making movies – over 200 in all – well into his later years, playing softer and more nuanced roles right up to 2012’s “Dearest” (Anata e) in which he starred with Kitano “Beat” Takeshi, a man whose own successful carer owes much to the trail blazed by Takakura.
A man who always seen to embody the samurai spirit of honor and chilvary, Takakura was one of the few remaining icons of a bygone age in Japan. He received the Order of Culture from Emperor Akihito in 2013 for his contribution to the arts.
Profile: Takakura Ken