A new Netflix movie has been announced based on the early career of comedian and film director Kitano Takeshi.
Titled “Asakusa Kid,” the film is based on a memoir of the same title written by Kitano. The director and scriptwriter is comic Gekidan Hitori, who also directed the 2014 drama “Bolt from the Blue.” Yagira Yuya (“Nobody Knows”) stars as Kitano and Oizumi Yo (“I Am a Hero”) plays Fukami Senzaburo, a comedian who was Kitano’s mentor. Shinichi Takahashi of Netflix is serving as executive producer and Yoichi Arishige of Nikkatsu as producer.
The focus of the story will be on the relationship between the young Kitano, starting when he was working at a strip club in the Tokyo entertainment district of Asakusa, and Fukami, who was the club’s reigning comic.
In a statement, Gekidan Hitori said that he has been developing the script for six years and that “I’ve long awaited the day when I could work together with everyone about a person, town and story that I love.”
Since his early days of stand-up, Kitano has evolved and diversified. In the 1980s he became one of Japan’s most popular comedians, first as part of a duo called “Two Beats” (thus his “Beat Takeshi” stage name) and then as a solo act with routines that ranged from slapstick to insult humor. His acting career took off, including an appearance in Oshima Nagisa’s 1983 “Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence.” From the early 1990s, so too did his film directing career, including a Venice Golden Lion for his 1997 cop drama “Hana-Bi.” His directing style has been characterized by long takes, minimal camera movement, brief dialogue, sly humor, and sudden violence. Kitano’s films often feature Yakuza gangsters, with Kitano himself frequently playing the tough guy lead, as in his “Outrage” trilogy (2010-17).
Kitano is also an accomplished painter, has published novels, and was founder of Office Kitano. The company is a talent agency and production company, and backed the founding of the Tokyo Filmex festival.
“Asakusa Kid,” is scheduled to upload on Netflix in the winter of 2021.