After working as a set assistant or assistant director under such filmmakers as Sogo Ishii and Kazuyuki Izutsu, he made his directorial debut in 1989 with Dotsuitarunen (earning the Directors Guild of Japan New Directors Award) and followed it up with another boxing film, Tekken, in 1990. Sakamoto became known for action films focusing on the conflicts between male characters, such as Tokarefu and New Battles Without Honor and Humanity, but has also made films centered on female characters such as Face and Awakening. He won the award for Best Director at the 24th Japan Academy Prize and at the 22nd Yokohama Film Festival for Face. He won the Special Jury prize for My House at the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria International Film Festival in 2003.
Chameleon, an action film starring Tatsuya Fujiwara and Asami Mizukawa, screened at the Busan International Film Festival in 2008. Children of the Dark, a thriller film shot in Thailand, was denied to screen at the Bangkok International Film Festival in 2008. Zatoichi: The Last, a jidaigeki film starring Shingo Katori, and Strangers in the City, a thriller film starring Toru Nakamura and Manami Konishi, were both released in 2010. Someday, an ensemble comedy film starring Yoshio Harada, won the Best Picture prize at the Yokohama Film Festival in 2011. He also directed A Chorus of Angels, a 2012 film starring Sayuri Yoshinaga, to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Toei Company. His 2013 film, Human Trust, starred Kōichi Satō, Yoo Ji-tae, and Vincent Gallo.
Style and influences
A number of Sakamoto's works, such as Ōte and Biriken, are set in Osaka, particularly the Shinsekai sector. His films have also taken up such controversial topics as postwar Japanese history and the problem of national sovereignty (Out of This World or Aegis), or the trafficking of children in Asia (Children of the Dark).
- Dotsuitarunen (1989)
- Tekken (1990)
- Ōte (1991)
- Tokarefu (1994)
- Boxer Joe (1995)
- Biriken (1996)
- Scarred Angels (1997)
- The Goofball (1998)
- Face (2000)
- New Battles Without Honor and Humanity (2000)
- KT (2002)
- My House (2003)
- Out of This World (2004)
- Aegis (2005)
- Awakening (2007)
- Children of the Dark (2008)
- Chameleon (2008)
- Zatoichi: The Last (2010)
- Strangers in the City (2010)
- Someday (2011)
- A Chorus of Angels (2012)
- Human Trust (2013)
- Danchi (2016)
- Ernesto (2017)
- Another World (2019)
- Ichido mo Uttemasen (2020)
- "Nihon Eiga Kantoku Kyōkai Shinjinshō" (in Japanese). Directors Guild of Japan. Archived from the original on 22 November 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- 第24回 日本アカデミー賞 (in Japanese). Japan Academy Prize. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
- 第２２回ヨコハマ映画祭 ２０００年日本映画個人賞 (in Japanese). Yokohama Film Festival. Retrieved 7 November 2009.
- Green, Jennifer (7 April 2003). "Las Palmas awards top prize to Mr & Mrs Iyer - News - Screen". Screen International.
- Edwards, Russell (20 October 2008). "Chameleon - Variety". Variety.
- Rithdee, Kong (19 September 2008). "Bangkok fest removes 'Children'". Variety.
- Kuipers, Richard (7 November 2008). "Children of the Dark - Variety". Variety.
- Schilling, Mark (14 May 2010). "'Zatoichi: The Last'". The Japan Times.
- Schilling, Mark (19 November 2010). "'Yukizuri no Machi (Strangers in the City)'". The Japan Times.
- Schilling, Mark (23 December 2011). "Disaster not the only reason for Japan's sluggish 2011 box office". The Japan Times.
- Shackleton, Liz (3 November 2012). "Toei sings with A Chorus Of Angels". Screen International.
- Schmidlin, Charlie (12 July 2013). "Vincent Gallo Joins Japanese Thriller 'Human Trust' Co-Starring Kôichi Satô & 'Oldboy' Star Yu Ji-Tae". IndieWire.
- Gerow, Aaron (3 September 2009). "Sakamoto Junji and Children of the Dark". Tangemania: Aaron Gerow's Japanese Film Page. Retrieved 12 September 2009.