Helmer will be Lee Sang-il, who made “Villain,” which swept the actor awards at the 2011 Japan Academy Prize ceremony.
Akira Emoto and Koichi Sato are also starring in the pic, skedded for a fall 2013 bow in Japan under the title “Yurusarezaru mono” (Japanese for “Unforgiven”).
As in the original, the story will be set in 1880, with the location changed to the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, a time when Japanese settlers were displacing the native Ainu people.
Watanabe plays a samurai with a fearsome reputation as a swordsman who is living in retirement with his Ainu wife when poverty and a large bounty tempt him into action again.
Eastwood himself shot to stardom in a remake of a Japanese film: Sergio Leone’s 1964 “A Fistful of Dollars,” which was based on the 1961 Akira Kurosawa samurai swashbuckler, “Yojimbo.”
Kurosawa’s 1954 pic “Seven Samurai” was similarly remade as the 1960 John Sturges-helmed western, “The Magnificent Seven.”
“Yurusarezaru mono” will shoot from September to November in Hokkaido.