Misumi Kenji (三隅研次)

Kenji MISUMI (March 2, 1921 - September 24, 1975) was a movie director. His representative movies include Zatoichi starring Shintaro KATSU, the trilogy of 'Ken' starring Raizo ICHIKAWA VIII, and Nemuri Kyoshiro series (1963 - 1969).

Biography and Personal Profile

He was born in Kyoto as an illegitimate child to a father who was a shipping agent in Kobe, and a mother who was a geisha in Kyoto. Kobe is also a possible birthplace of Misumi, who had never seen his mother until he became an adult. After graduating from the Specialized Department of Commerce, Ritsumeikan University, he entered the Nikkatsu Kyoto Studios as an assistant director. As the state of the war was worsening, he was drafted into the army and sent to Manchuria. He was held as a detainee in Siberia for three years after the war. This harsh experience and observation of people in the detention camp combined with his adverse background had formed his style of filmmaking. After repatriation, he affiliated himself with the Daiei film company, studied under Daisuke ITO (movie director), Sadatsugu MATSUDA, Teinosuke KINUGASA, and others. His directorial debut was a movie entitled "Tange Sazen: Kokezaru no tsubo"(1954).
Together with Tokuzo TANAKA and Kazuo IKEHIRO, he was one of the 'Daiei trio.'
He continued making short and mid-length movies for double or triple-feature programs as a leading director who supported the heyday of the Daiei Kyoto Studio. He also directed the movie "Shaka (Buddha)," the first 70 mm film produced in Japan. After Daiei went bankrupt, he participated in the establishment of Eizo Kyoto Film Co.. While directing some TV series, he also completed several theatrical films with Katsu Production Co., Ltd. - Daiei Kyoto Studio (released by Toho Co., Ltd.). In 1975, immediately after completion of a theatrical film "Okami yo Rakujitsu wo Kire," his first movie produced at the studio of another company (Ofuna studio of Shochiku), he died of liver cancer. He was only 54 years old.

He earned his position as a master of period film with the 'Zatoichi' series, the trilogy of 'Ken,' 'Nemuri Kyoshiro' series and the like. It is said that the spectacular sword-fight scenes in the movie "Kozure Okami (Lone Wolf and Cub)" starring Tomisaburo WAKAYAMA made a big impact on Quentin Tarantino and Sam Raimi.

He received the eleventh Galaxy Award for his TV drama "Tenno no Seiki" (The century of the emperor).

[Original Japanese]