Ken San (Yuichi Hibi, 2016 World Premier in USA): Japan
Reviewed by C. Zangi Angeli at Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2017
I saw several documentaries at this festival and Ken San was one of my top favorites. I met Yuichi Hibi, the film director of the documentary of Ken San at one of our Q & A’s at the Santa Ynez Valley Lounge during our 2017 Santa Barbara International film festival.
I was impressed with Yuichi Hibi and what I felt a sense of nobleness and purpose to tell the story of his hero. Hibi’s admiration for this legendary Japanese actor, Ken Takakura (as shown above) was what drew me to see the documentary. The abiding and deep respect and love offered to Takakura from Hibi was indeed special. I knew immediately I had to see this documentary and I fell in love with it too. I wanted more than the 90 minutes shown. It was the winner of Best Documentary at Montreal Film Festival. Ken Takakura was known as Japan’s greatest and last real movie star. Ken was the tough-guy actor known for his stoic, brooding and honorable style. He had done over 200 films and died at 83. The documentary reveals the love and high regard many people had for Takakura but not only love but great respect.
This documentary was a US premiere – subtitled with film clips and interviews from Michael Douglas, Martin Scorsese, John Woo, filmmakers, actors, family and friends. One of my favorite interviews was with Michael Douglas who obviously cared for this man and shared his stories how he was impacted by Takakura. Douglas shares clips from their movie “Black Rain from 1989, directed by Ridley Scott. You were moved by Ken Takakura and Michael Douglas’s interaction in this movie. This is a movie I want to see again. (look up Black Rain www.imdb.com/title/tt0096933/) But back to the documentary and Yuichi Hibi who felt he had many people against him and all he wanted to do as his job was to let you have an inside look at Ken Takakura. Hibi was able to do that and in an interesting and informative way giving this great Japanese actor his final due. The film was beautifully directed and rightfully so as Yuichi created a love story of his hero who was fondly loved and respected by so many in the industry as well as family and friends.