The Legends of Tak Sakaguchi

So have you heard of Tak Sakaguchi?

I thought I knew all the essentials. I did some digging, and was amazed with what I've found. And there is no exaggeration here of these points, I've only re-worded information from other articles for my artistic integrity!

Tak was a REAL live Japanese street fighter who was discovered DURING a street fight by future maverick director Ryuhei Kitamura.

Apparently -- Kitamura told him "You should be fighting in movies not on the streets" -- and during their second meeting, at a film party, it was Kitamura laying the beat down on someone when Tak walked in. (Source: Midnight Eye)

This next source is even more crazy... I did not make this up, but it's out there, been up since 2007. These are Chuck Norris internet meme level attributions, which just might have some truth to them:

  • He passed a car that was going 60 km on a bicycle. Okay, I could see that.
  • He fell from the fourth floor of a condo, with no injuries. Not gonna try it, but I suppose a well trained guy could conceivably do so.
  • While he was training in the mountains, a wild BOAR attacked him, and he killed it.  What?!  It gets better!
  • Tak is said to have fought a bear hand to hand and WON. 
  • He's got a 22 consecutive win record in underground fighting. After seeing Alive, I can imagine this. 
  • He fought also with 23 guys at the same time and won (I'm not adding anything in this translation! I'm going to say this is more impressive than the 22 win streak, although I guess those guys could have been more dangerous individually?)

Movie blood might be just as close as he gets to human mortality.

And according to my wife's research on another website in Japanese -- Tak even broke his neck while filming an action scene for Yakuza Weapon (2011), which he also directed, went on to do TWO more takes before agreeing to go to the hospital. Apparently, the doctor told him, "If it wasn't for your neck muscles, you'd be dead."

So just who IS this guy?! 

Well, he first emerged unto the international film scene as the star of Midnight Madness sensation Versus (2001).  Versus spawned a huge cult following and cemented his status as a cool, calm badass anti-hero who could believably destroy equally impressive opponents with guns, spinning swords and his reality hardened martial arts. 

Kitamura and Sakaguchi's partnership flourished through several more films: Alive, Arigami, Godzilla: Final Wars -- and the recently announced Versus 2, which was enough to bring Tak out of a short lived retirement.

Over his action packed career, Tak's blossomed into an action director and co-director (Vampire Girl vs Frankenstien Girl (2009), Tokyo Gore Police (2008), Himizu (2011), and single handedly directed  Be A Man Samurai School (2008); , Samurai Zombie (2008) and the aforementioned Yakuza Weapon.  He shares another co-director credit with amazing director Sion Sono in the upcoming Kenkichi -- but now:

Tak returns to Midnight Madness this year in ar in Sion Sono's manic romp,  Why Don't You Play in Hell? (2013).

So just how much of the legends are true? We may never know, but one thing is certain: He'll bring his trade-mark badassness and effortless physicality to the role.

WHY DON’T YOU PLAY IN HELL? Screening Times:
Friday, Sept 13th, 11:59 PM RYERSON
Saturday, Sept 14th, 3:45 PM SCOTIABANK 1

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