Ken Ochiai's UZUMASA LIMELIGHT Honors The Unsung Heroes Of Chambara Cinema

The golden age of samurai movies may be long gone, but such films are always welcome in the eyes of adoring fans who continue to share appreciation for the chambara genre. That sentiment can be seen extended through the latest effort of director Ken Ochiai in his new film, Uzumasa Limelight, which centers on seasoned action actor Seizo Fukumoto as a retiring stuntman training a young actress in pursuit of action film stardom.

The new film showcases Fukumoto's in his first principle lead role, ostensibly based on his own life as a "kireriyaku", perfecting the art of dying on screen to sell the hero's performance. To date, Fukumoto's eclectic career highlit by names such as the late Kinji Fukusaku and Shigehiro Ozawa, and actors like Sonny Chiba, Hiroyuki Sanada and Tom Cruise, has earned him the legendary record of dying on film anywhere from 20,000 to 50,000 times, a figure that goes unchallenged no matter how big or small for many who see this film as a long overdue milestone for the 71 year-old actor, a Charlie Chaplin admirer and avid film pursuant since the age of 15.

Fukumoto is joined by former junior Tai Chi martial arts champion and actress Chihiro Yamamoto making her acting debut as the female lead. Uzumasa Limelight will release theatrically in Japan on June 14. The film currently precedes Ochiai's newest venture with Shochiku for Ninja The Monster which is currently in post-production.

Watch the official trailer below, and be sure to catch the following video interview beneath, courtesy of The Wall Street Journal.

Uzumasa (Kyoto) is considered the Hollywood of Japan. It has produced many “jidaigeki” films (period dramas with sword fighting) that are loved by many Japanese, and are highly praised all over the world. These films wouldn’t be what they were if it weren’t for the “kirareyaku” (actors whose main job is to be killed by the lead star). Men who are killed, without ever being lit by the limelight… 
This story is about those men, the unsung heroes of classic jidaigeki films. Actors who loved and respected the art, even when the production of classic jidaigeki films began to dwindle. Using Charlie Chaplin’s film “Limelight” as an underlying theme, the admirable story of these men dealing with a new generation and fading craftsmanship is told with melancholy and soul.

H/T: Emmanuel Manzanares


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