New Japanese-Filipino movie about an amputee boxer is being filmed in Okinawa

New Japanese-Filipino movie about an amputee boxer is being filmed in Okinawa

Shogen, star of the new film The Amputee Boxer (title TBD) poses for a picture during an on-set interview in Ojima Island (Tamagusuku, Nannjyo City) in the afternoon on February 25.

March 1, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

A Japanese-Filipino joint production film, The Amputee Boxer (title TBD), is currently being filmed in Okinawa. The movie is a human drama based on the true-life story of Naozumi Tsuchiyama, 37. Tsuchiyama, who hails from Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan, built his boxing career in the Philippines as an amputee and has moved to Okinawa since his retirement. The film is directed by internationally acclaimed Filipino filmmaker Brillante Mendoza, who has received numerous awards in international film festivals, including the Cannes Film Festival. The main character is played by Japanese actor Shogen, best known for his role in Okinawan Blue (Kokoro Odoru) directed by Tsukasa Kishimoto. The film’s Japan release date is yet to be determined.

Filming commenced at the end of January in the Philippines and moved to Okinawa on February 25, mainly on Ojima Island (Tamagusuku, Nanjo City). The crew is scheduled to film in Okinawa until the beginning of March before moving on to Fukuoka Prefecture.

Tsuchiyama had an amputation below the ankle at age 5. He began boxing in high school and enrolled in the Hiranaka Boxing School in 2001. Because boxers with prosthetic limbs are prohibited from joining the professional league in Japan, Tsuchiyama moved to the Philippines to become a pro boxer. He never made champion and retired in 2015.

While some details of Tsuchiyama’s life have been changed for the big screen (his character is an Okinawa-native in the film, for example) the movie portrays Tsuchiyama’s attitude towards life and how he took on challenges in pursuit of his dreams, and explores human emotions of love, friendship, and pride.

Shogen, who is friends with Tsuchiyama, was the one who pitched the film to the Japanese film production studio Gentle Underground Monkeys. During an on-set interview on February 25, Shogen said, “I was drawn to Tsuchiyama because of his determination towards his dreams.” He added, “I hope to connect Okinawa and Asia with this movie.” Actress Kaho Minami plays the mother, and model Maaaya will make her film debut as the sister.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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