L.A.-based Upgrade Productions is pairing up with Japanese production label Shochiku (Tora-san franchise) to produce eight-part series drama, A True Novel. Acclaimed writer Riko Sakaguchi (The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, Mary and the Witches Flower, After The Rain) is penning the series.
Coming in as a delightful surprise to anyone who can’t read Japanese entertainment periodicals but nonetheless tries to follow along, a sequel is currently on the way with The Fable: Chapter Two, following last year’s inaugural hit action comedy based on Katsuhisa Minami’s 2014 manga.
Imagine you’re a ninja, suddenly awake with no memory, surrounded by dozens of dead ninjas, and the only clues you have are images of female ninja who also happens to be dead…and to top it off, you’re already in the middle of a ninja war! What do you do?
Budgets are usually an issue for some directors; I guess the opposite is true for risk when it comes to some studios. Me, personally, I’m all for a director using as much money as possible to allow the creative process to fully flourish and make the film not only excellent, but memorable. And there are directors who are able to achieve this on various productions throughout the world with low budgets, as opposed to Hollywood where studios will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to make a film, a move that can go one of two way depending on the title, which brings us the latest from Shochiku.
Back in 2010, rival studio, Nikkatsu launched a short series of small-budgeted productions subsidized under production label, Sushi Typhoon, producing and distributing gonzo cult favorites like Deadball, Yakuza Weapon, Cold Fish and Mutant Girls Squad before shutting down in 2011. Four years later, Shochiku has now chosen a similar approach with the goal of producing three high-concept smaller-budgeted productions per year solely for overseas release, costing anywhere around $240,000 to avoid the difficulties of recouping budgets that are four times larger. And just in time for Cannes, the studio has announced the its first two project to test the waters this August with The Tiger Mask helmer Ken Ochiai‘s new period fantasy actioner, Ninja The Monster, starring Black & White: The Dawn Of Assault actor Dean Fujioka, which tells the story of undercover ninjas facing off against alien monsters. The film is currently in post production and is poised to finish by August.
The second to release will be Ninja Hunter, about a man who wakes up in a room full of dead bodies with a bloody knife in-hand and no prior memory of how it all happened.
As it stands, the plots are vague. But nonetheless, Shochiku is giving the international niche what it wants: Ninja movies! And that means more cinematic martial arts action to come from the land of the rising sun!
Speaking of which, Ochiai‘s previously completed action drama, Uzumasa Limelight starring veteran actor Seizô Fukumoto has a trailer as of late last year and is expected to release domestically later this year, courtesy of Eleven Arts. Check it out and stay tuned for more information.
H/T: Variety, Screendaily