Interview by: Christopher Evans

Of all the interviews and articles that I have written so far this has to be the most personal for me.

Growing up in the North East of England in the  late 1980’s and early 1990’s as a person of Japanese ancestry ( My Grandad was one of the first wave of Japanese immigrants to arrive in the UK) trying to find out about Japanese culture , long before the Internet ,the only place to find any information was from the library ,and the local video rental  store in the “World Films ” section. This is where I first encountered the films of the I.F.D ninja movies, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, and Akira Kurosawa.

But it was the films of Sho Kosugi and his sons that captivated me the most and I spent countless hours glued to the screen, mesmerized by their adventures. Movies such as Prey For Death, Revenge of The Ninja and Black Eagle, all be it in a heavily censored form due to the stringent censorship laws in the UK. I imagined that this is what all Japanese people must be like and was first inspired to briefly take up shotokan Karate as a result, which led me further down the path of the martial arts. Fast forward 30 years and I was more than a little elated when Shane Kosugi agreed to be interviewed for Eastern Film Fans and explore his career so far.

Since leaving his childhood career behind, Shane has relocated to Tokyo Japan, and has mainly concentrated on a career in the I.T. Industry, only stepping out to dip his toe into action cinema, starring alongside the likes of Tom Cruise, Hiroyuki Sanada and Ken Watanabe in the international genre epic The Last Samurai (2003) and the historical ronin actioner Kage (2007). While leaving his older brother Kane to concentrate on working on action movies full time, recently, Shane has decided to step back into movie making, setting up his own film production company and directed the award nominated debut movie,          Seek ( 2023) ,producing Barashi Fight (2023-4) currently in post-production and also developing a prequel to the ultra-successful Echo -8 Starring Takashi Hara and Maria Tran.

Eastern Film Fans: Your early films in particular pray for death and Black Eagle, area a precursor for the cute children using martial to defeat the bad guy’s movie genre. I’m thinking of the likes of The 3 ninja movies , surf ninjas,  and in Asia,  Shaolin Popey , and even to some extent Home Alone (1990). Was it your father that suggested the idea of getting you and your brother involved in these movies and did you enjoy making these childhood movies?

Shane Kosugi: Yes, I can say emphatically it was my father’s vision for us as young martial artists to expand our names and experiences, as well as my father’s expectations for us as action actors.

Eastern Film Fans: What was your early training regime like as a child and do you still practice the martial arts?

Shane Kosugi: Honestly, I think that our training was busier than actual school in those days. We would have different practices and training in Karate, Judo, Kendo, weaponry, gymnastics, acting and action every day after-school until the night and on the most weekends. Since coming to Japan about 25 years ago, I have still been practicing my arts and have learned Wushu, Tae Kwon Do, Iaido, Batto-do, Tate, and kept up with my action training for movies.

Eastern Film Fans:Do you think of your early films fondly ,or are they something that you have strived to leave behind when forging your own career plan?

Shane Kosugi I have been blessed and thankful for having the opportunity to experience those great events in my life. Without it I don’t think I would be the person I am today or be in the position I am either.

Eastern Film Fans: What is your favourite of your father’s movies (that you and your brother didn’t star in)?

Shane Kosugi: “Enter the Ninja”. That was the real beginning of my father’s ninja legacy.

Eastern Film Fans: Your father is still very much fit and active, one recurring suggestion that fans would love to see is your father, your brother Kane and yourself to star in one final ninja movie together. If the script was right would this be something as a family, you would ever consider?

Shane Kosugi: Yes, of course! It’s like coming around a full circle! But older and more experienced lol!

Eastern Film Fans: In 1989 you starred alongside Jean Claude Van Damme in Black Eagle (1989). I like to think of this movie as an unofficial sequel to No Retreat No Surrender              (1985) as Van Damme is credit in both movies as Ivan The Russian, so my reasoning is that after  he was defeated by Kurt McKinney he goes off to Malta to work as a bad guy there.

Do you remember much about your time working with Van Damme and also working in Malta?

Shane Kosugi: Yes, I remember the beautiful island of Malta and how nice all the island people, crew and cast were.  I remember bits and pieces of the shoot. Like when we were waiting for the scene to be set up Van Damme would stretch or train while we were waiting. My dad was the same! I thought to myself how professional they were and made me think until now that you have to be always ready.

Eastern Film Fans: After Black Eagle (1989) you, your brother and your father seemingly gave up acting. Was it a conscious decision as a family to concentrate on academic studies rather continue in the film business?

Shane Kosugi: For me, I wanted to focus on school and sports. So from high school to university, I just concentrated on that. For my brother, after graduating high school he moved to Japan and continued focusing on acting and action. However, for my dad, he continued on in Japan with some projects and also started an actors school.

Eastern Film Fans: You relocated to Japan, and you next appeared in the late 90’s  in several seasons of cult  television  game show Sasuke aka Ninja Warrior , and were a fan favourite, competing alongside your brother Kane. Do you still watch the series, how did you happen to appear on this show and have you ever thought of going back on the show or one of the popular offshoot shows that are still quite popular in America and Europe?

Shane Kosugi: ◦Yes, I still watch it today because my brother has been going on the show recently. I got my first shot when my brother started going on those shows and actually got to go on Sasuke when my brother couldn’t go on due to scheduling. Those shows were a lot of fun and good memories…but I don’t think I would go on again because it takes a lot of training and time to compete at a high level like that.

Eastern Film Fans: You next appeared on film in the Tom Cruise movie The Last Samurai (2003). This is another movie that many people hold with affection, and it has directly influenced people to dig further into Japanese culture, history and language. How did you get involved with this project and did you get to interact much with Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe or Hiroyuki Sanada?

Shane Kosugi: I actually went in to audition with my dad and got a role as one of the core samurai’s that are close to Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada. That was one of my most precious, fun-filled and memorable experiences in my life. I met so many great people and learned so much about the film making in general. I had the pleasure of being around Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada for most of the shoot and they were total professionals and just admirable people. For Tom Cruise, I had one action scene where the samurai’s capture him and carry him away…I was one of those guys!

Eastern Film Fans: You then seemingly retired from action acting again to work as a computer technician, and reappeared sporadically in the historical movie Kage (2007) and then again last year for the self-produced short movies Seek (2023) and Barashi Fight (2023).  Are movies still pretty much a side project for you now, or are you looking to work on more projects with your film production company on a full-time basis?

Shane Kosugi: I’ve been trying to learn more about filmmaking and everything about it. Like editing, VFX, colour grading, directing, etc… I would like to make and produce more films on a full-time basis in the future and especially action films! So, if anyone would like to collaborate, please make contact.

Eastern Film Fans: Seek (2023) was well received at the international film festivals. What are your thoughts on short movies, are they a good way for directors to explore ideas and emerging technology, and do you intend to make a transition to full feature film making with your production company?

Shane Kosugi: Yes, I definitely. think short films are an option to explore new ideas and concepts to help creators express their visions. However, my main goal is to create full feature films and we just finished shooting our debut full feature action film, which is a continuation of the characters and story arc created in the short movie SEEK (2023) . I have finished shooting at the end of January of this year We are currently in post-production right now, and hopefully can have it distributed worldwide by early 2025, so keep an eye on my social media for updates! 

Eastern Film Fans: Do you have any dream film projects that you would like to pursue, or a particular actor that you would one day like to make a film with?

Shane Kosugi: Yes, I would definitely like to make a action film with my brother Kane as the Hero!

Eastern Film Fans: Are there any current projects that you would like to promote or inform the readers of Eastern Film Fans about?

Shane Kosugi: Yes, we made a full feature action film, probably the title will be “SEEK”, and we hope to get it out worldwide by next year. We will probably also send it into some film festivals at the end of this year 2024 to the beginning of next year 2025. I hope this is just the beginning!

Eastern Film Fans: Finally, for fun, which one classic movie (in any genre) would you remake as ninja action movie and who would be your leading man or leading woman of choice be ?

Shane Kosugi: Firstly, I would love to remake Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” as a ninja action film. How cool would that be! I love and truly respect all of Kurosawa’s films and that would definitely be on my remake bucket list.  Probably starring my brother Kane, Scott Adkins! Other than that, I’m not sure lol!

Eastern Film Fans: Thank you very much Shane for taking time out for this interview, all the best in the forthcoming months on your future projects.

Shane Kosugi: My pleasure and a big thank you to you Christopher for interviewing me. Also, I would like to say a massive thank you to all the fans of my movies and continued support throughout the years.

Seek (2023 ) Is available to view on film freeway.

Check Shane’s social media for all updates relating to his forthcoming projects.

Eastern Film Fans wish to Thank Shane Kosugi for taking time to talk to us and Christopher Evans for the fantastic interview.

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