Kane Kosugi began his training in martial arts at the age of one and a half. Since moving to Japan at the age of 18, he has done numerous movies and TV shows becoming one of the nation’s most popular and recognizable talents. He has worked with some of the action movie greats including Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Jean-Claude Van Damme. You can catch his newly released film entitled Choy Lee Fut and voice acting (as well as acting) in the animated rotoscope film, Baton. We sat down and talked about his wide array of talents and to get his take on Hollywood stuntmen today. Read below for the full interview…
You started martial arts very young, and your father was a big influence on you. Was it always decided you would follow in his footsteps or did you have any ambition to do something different at one point?
Kane: Ever since I first saw my fathers first movie, I always knew I wanted to be an actor and my parents have always been very supportive of my decision. I never thought of doing anything else so I feel really lucky to be able to find something that I really wanted to do from such a young age.
In the 90’s you contributed to one of the biggest anime films of the decade by providing the a voice in Street Fighter Alpha. Would you like to do more voice acting in the future?
Kane: Yes, definitely! I had always loved playing Street Fighter the video game and couldn’t believe it when I first heard I would get a chance to be a part of the Anime movie. I actually like doing voice overs, and I had to do it for a year when I was doing Kakuranger (the Japanese Power Rangers).
How did you get into the stunt game?
Kane: I started most of my stunt training when I came to Japan. I always felt that it’s more believable if the actor could do as much of the action as possible, plus it gives the director more angles to use instead of just the back of the head.
It was recently reported that stuntman Kun Lieu died on the set on The Expendables 2 due to an explosion. As a master of your craft, what kind of extra precautions do you think films could do a better job of setting up?
Kane: I didn’t know that. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I have many close friends who are stuntmen and I feel that most of the time they don’t get the recognition they deserve. I think the main thing is taking the time to prepare and make sure the safety is there. A lot of times they will try to rush the shoot because its not the star filming which is the sad thing because they risk their lives to make the film better.
How do you feel about the new breed of martial art actors (Tony Jaa, Rain, Jija Yanin). Do you feel Hollywood does a good job handling these type of films or do you feel they are being type-casted?
Kane: I have the upmost respect for any action actor because I know how hard it is and the pain we feel after a long shoot [smiles]. I think there is a lot more opportunities in Hollywood for Asians and action actors compared to ten years ago and I think it’s because of some of the greats like Jackie Chan and Jet Li.
As an actor, which is more enjoyable for you? Japanese television or movies?
Kane: Of course I enjoy T.V. but movies are my favorite. It’s so much faster with T.V. because of the time limit so especially when it comes to action, it’s always better to have more time to shoot it.
Lets go back to the 90’s again! How was it like working with Jackie Chan’s Who Am I?
Kane: I was originally there to study with Jackie. I helped out the stunt guys and trained with them and Jackie after shoots. I was in Amsterdam for about a month and a half. When I was about to go back to Tokyo he asked me to come to the next location to be in the opening. I learned so much from Jackie, and I still do. He is truly an amazing mentor and just a great guy.
In your newest film, Choy Lee Fut, you team up with Sammo Hung. Could you tell us a bit about the film and the process of making it?
Kane: Well, I got a call from Sam Wong, the director. I worked with him before when I was helping in “Who Am I ” and also in my project “Blood Heat “. Sam said he had a role for me in his new project and of course I said yes right on the spot. We shot everything in China. My role was supposed to only need three weeks but I ended up going to China four times for a total of two months. It was a tough shoot because they didn’t have a big budget and very little time but I really enjoyed working with the staff and crew.
In the film you attempt to learn Choy Li Fut Kung Fu. For those unfamiliar, could you describe this style?
Kane: I don’t know if i can describe it that well but it basically looks like a form of Wu Shu, kind of like Nanquan (Southern fist). I had to look it up before I started shooting because I had never heard of it [laughs]. We practiced a week or two before the shoot and during whenever we had time.
Lastly, as you get older do you want to try your hand at drama or comedy films or are you comfortable with dedicating yourself to martial art films?
Kane: I believe that in movies the story should always come first and the action should be the spice, so I’m open to trying all types of characters. But of course I’m always the happiest when we’re shooting the action scenes!
Want to keep tabs on all of Kane’s future projects? Make sure to bookmark his IMDB page below: