Barring any other expectations by fans of Takeshi “Beat” Kitano, the next stage for the cult filmmaking legend looks to be his final directorial outing, adapting his own novel, Neck. The new period actioner is based on Kitano’s 2019 Kadokawa publication, reportedly inspired in part by Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 jidaigeki opus, Seven Samurai, and is currently set for a May production start.
Here’s Variety‘s Mark Schilling with more:
The novel “Kubi” is one of many fictional treatments of the real-life Honno-ji Incident, in which famed warlord Oda Nobunaga was assassinated at a temple in Kyoto in 1582. The characters are mainly real historical figures, including Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the Nobunaga retainer who avenges his dead lord in battle, and Sorori Shinzaemon, a Hideyoshi attendant noted for his wit.
In Kitano’s novel, which starts prior to the assassination, Shinzaemon captures Araki Murashige, a Nobunaga general accused of disloyalty. The plot revolves around the fate of Murashige, whose neck Nobunaga aims to sever.
Citing news being disseminated throughout Japanese media outlets, Variety’s Mark Schilling reports that Neck will star Ken Watanabe (Inception, Batman Begins, Godzilla: King Of The Monsters). Watanabe’s recent starring role alongside actor Koichi Sato in harrowing disaster drama, Fukushima 50, saw the two win the CUT ABOVE Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Film from last year’s Japan Cuts virtual film festival for Japan Society (read my review here).
Neck will also see Kitano on set with a brand new crew, with the exception of Mori Masayuki (Sonatine, Fireworks, Brother, Zatoichi, Glory To The Filmmaker!), Kitano’s producing partner for more than twenty years.
News comes just three years after Kitano stepped down from his post as President and co-founder of talent management firm, Office Kitano. A biopic about Kitano’s earlier career – Asakusa Kid – is also in the works at Netflix as of last year with Yagira Yuya (Destruction Babies, Gintama) and Oizumi Yo (New Interpretation Of The Three Kingdoms, Tokyo Ghoul) starring.