In the tokusatsu community, Kane is best known for his role as Jiraya in Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, but this is a man with a love for tokusatsu and action. From his roles in Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero to his stunt choreography and motion capture in the Playstation game Tenchu: Stealth Assassins, he is always eager to tackle a new challenge.
Henshin Justice Unlimited and Mecha Gorilla correspondent Trae Johnson interview this pillar in the tokusatsu shinobi about his experience with tokusatsu, his career, and his influences.
In life there are things that we cannot see, predict, or prepare for. Lightning strikes, giant kaiju attacks, and ninja assassinations. By the awesome roll of the dice, I wasn’t assassinated and even got the opportunity to interview the second generation Ninja Kosugi and Jiraya from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. He’s an awesome dude, with a wealth of love for tokusatsu as well as action movies.
Kane Kosugi in his roll as Kai in Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero
Could you let the folks at home know who I have pleasure of speaking with?
My name is Kane Kosugi. I was born in California , in the San Gabriel Valley. I lived there until I was 18 and then moved to Japan. I have been working in the movie industry since I was 6 years old. Started martial arts when I was a year and a half old, so it was natural for me to work in action films. I’ve had the privilege ad honor of being able to work on many tokusatsu projects as well such as Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, and Godzilla Final Wars .
What was it like working on a Super Sentai series? Any backstage stories you’d like to share?
It was quite an experience. It was one of my first jobs here in Japan. I didn’t speak Japanese so it was really hard. We shot one episode a week for a whole year so things moved really fast. I had to have someone read me the scripts. Sometimes I just didn’t have any time [to read the scripts], so I wouldn’t know what the story was and just acted without knowing the story. It was pretty crazy!
How was it being the Jiraiya, the English speaking Sentai member, among your team of Japanese speaking rangers? Follow up, was there some sort of running joke between you and the cast or directors?
I loved playing Jiraiya. I was basically HIM. Being new to Japan and all , we were both learning the culture and making new friends. There wasn’t really any “in” jokes or anything like that , I guess they just thought the fact that I could speak English was cool so I tried to use that in my character. I think I was one of the first in Super Sentai to be a foreigner , so I wanted to bring something different to the character.
Have you been keeping up with Super Sentai? If so, what is your favorite season?
No, not at all. Every once in a while I might see [Super Sentai] on TV, it brings back all the great memories.
Do they give you some sort of prop or gift once you’re done shooting for a Super Sentai series? If so, what did they give you?
I remember getting Doron Changer. I kept it for a while but eventually gave it to a fan. I believed that person would take better care of it.
Tell us what got you started in martial arts? How did your family receive your choice to move forward with being an amazing martial arts actor?
It was because of my father, Sho Kosugi, of course. When I was born he owned a karate dojo. I started walking pretty early so they thought I had strong legs and started teaching me when I was a year and a half old. They have always been supportive of my dreams.
In both Ultimate Hero, and Kakuranger you got to start alongside your father. How was that experience?
In Kakuranger I got to do a nice action scene with him, it was fun as usual. I guess I worked with him many times so it’s always easy since we’re used to each others movements.
It has been heard you and your father did have a falling out over your choice to continue a career in Japanese stunt acting instead of maintaining his schools. How much of that is true? Have you since reconciled?
Unfortunately I have not seen him for a long time; however don’t believe everything TV or newspapers say about us.
What forms of martial arts do you practice and use in your films?
I’m always trying to get better and make something new with my action. Of course I studied Karate, Tae kwon do, Judo, Kendo, Chinese Wu Shu, gymnastics, some breakdance and parkour, so I try to use a mix of everything.
So you starred in Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero or Ultraman Powered, as Kai, which was the second show in the Ultra series to be produced outside Japan. Would you ever consider returning to the series?
Of course! I think I was 18 years old when I did that, it was so much fun. I remember coming back to the states to shoot for half a year.
At the end of the day he likes to unwind
What are you favorite hobbies outside of martial arts and film?
I like reading books, watching movies and playing video games.
You have done work on both American and Japanese movies, are there any major differences in filming or timing between the two?
In general its the same, but since we don’t have unions or rules here, sometimes we shoot more than 24 hours. I remember doing a action scene for 26 hours straight.
What was your favorite onscreen fight to shoot?
I really enjoyed fighting with Scott Adkins on Ninja 2. He’s such great guy and action star. He’s easy to work with and so talented !
What was your favorite on-screen fight of yours to watch?
I liked a short film action scene I did in Korea called Timeless (part 2 here). I really liked the camera work and style the director had.
Ninja II was awesome! I don’t think there is a question here, I just want you to know that between you and Scott Adkins, I would cast you guys for pretty much everything. Seriously thank you for Ninja II. Please make a movie where you star in just kicking everything’s butt. No dialog, no exposition. Just 80 minutes of beating things down. You know, kind of like The Raid: Redemption
Scott Adkins and Kane Kosugi putting in work during Ninja II
Thank you so much! I truly enjoyed working on that movie. Scott and the director Isaac were so easy to work with. Hopefully we can do something together again. I hope so ! Well actually I did a small cameo recently on a film call ” Angels ” I did a scene with Scott. Yes, I hope we can do something like Ninja 2 again soon. Scott is a real professional, easy to work with, one of the easiest to choreograph against too.
Are there any of your works that you’re a huge fan of? Which series or movies?
I love the Bourne Identity series as well as the recent Christopher Nolan Batman series.
Who were some of your biggest influences in your career, both in film and in martial arts?
Jackie Chan is the biggest. He’s such a great action star and person. I got a chance early in my career to study with him a little, it was such a great experience!
What is your favorite action movie?
That’s tough . For me Drunken Master 2 is near the top . The last fight scene was awesome!
You’re a very busy man. What are you currently up to career-wise? What projects can we look forward to?
I just finished a movie shoot in Thailand called “Agent X “. Loads of action in this one. I’m also getting ready for another project that’s supposed to shoot in July. Besides that I work in Japan as well.
What can you tell us about Agent X?
I can’t really go into detail but it’s about a man who wakes up without having any memory. He must find out who he is and what happened to him. We only had 18 shooting days for this, one of the shortest shoots for me , especially since it’s a action movie it was really tough, but I really look forward to seeing the movie.
Who else is excited about the prospect of Kane Kosugi appearing in the US?
Shameless publicity: have you heard of the Texas Toku Taisen, the United States’ first tokusatsu film festival? If so, what are your feelings about an event like this? Would this event get the Kane Kosugi seal of approval? What do you feel about tokusatsu being an international genre? Any encouraging words for the tokusatsu fans out there in the US or anywhere outside of Japan?
Before this interview I’m sorry to say I have not, but now I do and I think it’s awesome what you guys are doing! Tokusatsu is everywhere and it gives us so many heroes and dreams. I was so lucky to be able to be a part of so many Tokusatsu projects and I see how it effects so many people of all ages, including me. I hope one day I can visit your event in the states!
Well we can’t thank Kane Kosugi and the whole of Destiny Productions for offering us the chance to interview Kane. And wouldn’t you know it, he is cheering for the first ever tokusatsu film festival in the US’ success. Well thanks to Kane and HJU, we’re able to offer everyone on Henshin Justice Unlimited an awesome discount on passes! Using the promo code: hju-10, you’ll get your passes basic level passes at $35 and $10 off all other pass packages. The Texas Toku Taisen takes place in San Antonio, Texas during May 15, 2014 at the Alamo Drafthouse Park North location. Appearances and details found here on HJU!