Master martial artist Kane Kosugi has enjoyed a prolific film career in both Japan and the United States. Having appeared in films like Cat’s Eye (1997), Zero Woman (1995), DOA: Dead Or Alive (2006), and Pray for Death (1985), Mr. Kosugi has entertained audiences on both sides of the Pacific with his martial arts prowess and his exceptional acting ability. Mr. Kosugi starred in Tsuburaya Productions’ made-in-America TV series Ultraman: the Ultimate Hero (1993) as Ultraman Powered’s alter ego, and he more recently costarred in Ryuhei Kitamura’s action-packed tribute to kaiju eiga Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) as M-Facility soldier Katsunori Kazama. Mr. Kosugi was happy to share his experiences about these and other roles with Brett Homenick in a 2006 interview.
Brett Homenick: How did you get started in the film industry?
Kane Kosugi: I got started in the film industry when I was around six years old. When I was five, I saw my dad’s first movie, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Even though he played a bad guy, he looked like a hero. I guess my dad knew that I wanted to do it, and he gave me a part in his next movie.
BH: What led to the role of Kai in Ultraman Powered?
KK: I was working on a TV drama in Japan when I heard they were going to shoot an Ultraman (show) in the U.S., and they were looking for someone. I met Mr. Tsuburaya (who I’m sure everyone knew and loved, passed away a few years back), and he picked me to do the part of Kai. I was so happy because I got to do such a great hero, and at the same time go back to L.A. to work.
BH: Do you have any memories of your costars? Did you enjoy working with them?
KK: I really enjoyed working with them all. I was the youngest, I think around 19, but everyone was so nice, and we all got along really well. We would hang out after work as well. I still remember shooting in the summertime, so it was pretty hot in our outfits.
BH: How would you describe your working relationship with director King Wilder and the rest of the production team?
KK: King was really easy to work with. He would explain everything to us clearly, and it was easy to understand what he wanted. It was tough because we would shoot all the episodes at once, for example, we would shoot all the base set for a few weeks, then go on to the locations, etc. So I’m sure if it wasn’t for him, we would get confused on which episode or what monster we were fighting.
BH: I understand your father, martial arts legend Sho Kosugi, played (a small part in) Ultraman Powered. What was it like having your father work on the show with you?
KK: My dad did a voice appearance for one scene, so I never really got to work with him.
BH: Did you get a chance to meet with Kevin Hudson and Bruce Fuller, the two principal kaiju suit builders on the show?
KK: I think I met them, but I can’t really remember, sorry.
BH: What did you think of Ultraman Powered as a TV show?
KK: I thought it was pretty cool. I actually watched it here in Japan. It was funny because I was also doing Kakuranger (1994-95) at the same time, so the kids were all confused. I just told them when I ‘m Japan, I’m Ninja Black; when I’m in the States, I’m Ultraman.
BH: What are your memories of working on Ohranger vs. Kakuranger (1996)?
KK: I learned so much during the shoot of Kakuranger and the movie. We shot for a whole year and the schedule was really tough, but I enjoyed it very much!
BH: How did you get cast in Godzilla: Final Wars?
KK: I was a big fan of Mr. Kitamura and seen all his movies. So I had some people introduce him to me. We talked, and I felt we had a lot in common, and we really connected. That was a few months before I found out he was going to direct Godzilla (Final Wars). Anyways, I never thought I was going to work with him so fast, but he asked me to be in it. I was so happy; I guess you never know what’s going to happen or who you’re going to meet.
BH: As a director, what was Ryuhei Kitamura like to work with?
KK: It was a great experience working with him. I learned so much. He has so many ideas, especially with the action scenes, and some of the equipment they used, cameras and stuff, were really new and cool.
BH: What are your memories of performing the martial arts stunts in this film? Were there any stunts that were particularly difficult to perform?
KK: The bike scene was pretty difficult. I ride bikes, but doing action and stunts can be pretty difficult. The action director and Mr. Kitamura made sure we were safe and took the time to do these stunts so everything went really smooth. It was a great experience, and I love doing action!
BH: Did you have any involvement with the special effects crew in Final Wars?
KK: They shot in a completely different studio, so we didn’t really get to meet them, but I knew the person who was inside Godzilla, Mr. (Tsutomu Kitagawa). He was actually the guy who was inside Black when I did the Japanese Power Ranger, Kakuranger, and I was Black.
BH: Did you have much interaction with Don Frye on Final Wars?
KK: I talked to Don a lot. He’s a really nice guy and easy to get along with. I never got to see him fight in real life because I didn’t have any fight scenes with him, but he had this aura about him, something you don’t want to mess with.
BH: On the subject of your costars, do you have any stories to tell about working with them?
KK: There were a lot of pro fighters in the movie, and they (were) really big. I remember everyone talking about fighting moves in the ring and ways to pin other fighters. Basically we would always talk about action or fighting.
BH: What did you enjoy most about working on Final Wars?
KK: I like the people I worked with, especially the director, Mr. Kitamura. I learned a lot by watching and doing the fight scenes. I feel really honored that I could be a part of Godzilla.
BH: Final Wars is probably the most controversial Godzilla film in history. Many fans love it; others absolutely despise it. What did you think of the completed film?
KK: I feel really lucky to be a part of Final Wars. I’m a big fan of Mr. Kitamura and Godzilla. I liked the film. The action was cool, and I especially liked watching all the kaiju. I don’t think you can see so many kaiju in one movie.
BH: What projects are you working on now?
KK: The movie I shot last year called DOA, from the movie game, comes out in September. I play Ryu Hayabusa. I love playing Ninja Gaiden, so it was so cool to play him. I also got a chance to fight with Jet Li in the film Rogue, which will come out next year.
BH: Do you have any closing comments?
KK: Thanks for reading my interview! I will continue to do my best and try new things. I hope you will check out my new movies!
Special thanks to Destiny Production, Inc.