Sorimachi to play epic hero

Uber-producer Haruki Kadokawa, hot off his successful WWII pic “Yamato: The Last Battle,” has signed that pic’s star, Takashi Sorimachi, to play the lead in his epic about Genghis Khan, “The Blue Wolf — To the Ends of the Earth and Sea.”

The Mongolian-Japanese co-production will trace the Mongolian national hero’s life from his birth as the descendant of a legendary blue wolf to his death in 1227 at age 65, after having conquered most of Asia.

Budgeted at ¥3 billion ($25 million), pic will celebrate the 800th anniversary of Mongolia’s founding. Production is receiving the complete support of the Mongolian government, including the use of 5,000 soldiers as extras. Helmer Shinichiro Sawai (“The Tragedy of W”) will start the three-month shoot in June.

Although Sorimachi has made only scattered film appearances, he is the king of TV drama in Japan, with starring roles in a 2002 NHK maxi-series about the career of 16th-century warlord Oda Nobunaga and a 2005 NTV drama about Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who saved nearly 6,000 Jews from the Holocaust.

Released Dec. 17 in Japan by Toei, “Yamato: The Last Battle” has grossed $36 million, making the veteran Kadokawa one of Japan’s most bankable producers.

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