Kinji Fukasaku

TOKYO--Kinji Fukasaku, perhaps best known in the U.S. as the director of the Japanese portions of the 1970 film "Tora! Tora! Tora!", died here Jan. 12 of prostate cancer. He was 72. MSTies may know that he was the director of the 1968 space adventure "Gamma sango uchu daisakusen," known in the U.S. as THE GREEN SLIME. In 1988, the film was selected by Joel Hodgson to demonstrate the concept for the TV show he was pitching to Twin Cities UHF station KTMA, and was used for the half-hour pilot Joel created. It never aired on TV and fans have only seen the brief snippets of the pilot that were included on the "MST3K Scrapbook" tape offered by Best Brains.

Fukasaku joined film studio Toei Co. in 1953 and became involved in the very successful "War Without a Code" yakuza movie series in 1973.

In "Tora! Tora! Tora!", a Japan-U.S. collaboration on Japan's 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda worked on the filming of the scenes on the Japanese side after Akira Kurosawa abandoned the project.

Among his other notable films were 1980's "Fukkatsu no hi" ("Virus") and the award-winning 1982 backstage comedy "Kamata koshin-kyoku" ("The Fall Guy").

Fukasaku, who was married to actress Sanae Nakahara, had headed the Director's Guild of Japan since 1996. The following year, he received the government's highly regarded Medal with Purple Ribbon. Fukasaku, a native of Mito in the Ibaraki Prefecture, announced he had cancer in September, but was working on a new film in December when his condition deteriorated and he was hospitalized.