Sunday, November 11, 2012
If we had a “Most Underrated Japanese Actor” category here, 51-year-old Kiichi Nakai would easily qualify - although the guy has been nominated for, and in fact, won a swag of Japanese Academy Awards, including best actor.
He also happens to be the son of the late Keiji Sada, one of Japan’s more venerated stars of the silver screen before his untimely demise in 1964 at just 37 years of age.
As an actor himself, son Nakai blossomed as the sensational focal-point of Fukuro no Shiro (Owl’s Castle, 1999), possibly Japan’s most underrated, must-see silly ninja movie. I love Owl's Castle for the story, for the action (even with its CG hiccups) and mostly for Nakai at his over-acting, endearing best.
I even ended up nicking an image and using that for the cover art of one of my Little Nobody LPs in 2009, the long-windedly titled I Have Become So Many People I Don't Know Who I Am (this is a quote from the movie). By the way, that's a free download, so go grab it if you want.
While he was nominated for his role of the principle ninja in Owl's Castle, Nakai had previously won the Japan Academy Best Supporting Actor award in 1994 for the drama Shijushichinin no Shikaku (47 Ronin), directed by the late, great Kon Ichikawa. Five years ago, Nakai sparkled in his supporting role in the high-profile Takuya Kimura (SMAP) vehicle Hero, for director Masayuki Suzuki, and he was also the mad, somehow sympathetic bad guy opposite Mansai Nomura in Onmyoji 2.
You can read more about Kiichi Nakai in my article @ Forces Of Geek.