Warner Brothers Developing Tokyo Underworld Adaptation

August 7, 2008

Tokyo Underworld

As much as it sounds like Tokyo Underworld might be a sequel to Ninja Assassin, it is something entirely different. This project is an adaptation of a book written by Robert Whiting fully titled "Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan." That title alone should hopefully be enough to interest you, as I'm already grinning thinking about cinematic opportunities (like Ridley's American Gangster in Japan). The story follows Nick Zappetti, an Italian-American from East Harlem who was part of the US occupation forces sent to Japan after WWII. Believing that Tokyo offered certain opportunities, Zappetti had a failed stint as a wrestler, participated in a fumbled diamond heist and was deported. But he returned illegally and opened a pizza joint, which in the mid-'60s became the center of Tokyo's nightlife, and for the next 15 years, he became an integral part in the yakuza's rise to power.

The right to this book were originally picked up by DreamWorks, but they've since fallen into the hands of producer Dan Lin (The Departed, The Box), who is now developing the project at Warner Brothers. They've hired the book's writer, Robert Whiting, now a journalist living in Japan, to serve as a consultant on the project. This is being tagged as a "true-life crime" story, which certainly means this will be exciting to see come to life on the big screen and is in the same vein as American Gangster and Public Enemies. Although there is no writer or director attached yet, I'm excited simply based on the potential that this has as a cinematic story. Imagine the bright colors and bustling activity of Tokyo as the setting for a story as intertwined as American Gangster and you might start to understand what I'm seeing. Hopefully it doesn't take too long to get the engines going on this project. Why is this adaptation so damn appealing?

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Read the book and it will more appealing: 😉

SillySil on Aug 7, 2008


Nevertheless, i'm pumped for ninja assassin

moviereign on Aug 7, 2008


dude this sounds awesome 😀 Im up for crazy Japanese mobs

Carlos on Aug 7, 2008


sounds interesting could be as good as American Gangster of even better.

Curtis on Aug 8, 2008


I most likely will not see this movie if they don't cast an Italian-American actor in the lead role. I get tired of these movies where Italians are portrayed by non-Italians. Hopefully they will do the right thing and cast an Italian-American.

John Lucania on Aug 14, 2009


Great book about a not-so-great, but powerful man, who epitomized the worst in Japanese-American relations. I lived in Japan for 11 years, and first read the book while there, and was fascinated with the story, while, at the same time, I seemed to be living a parallel story. This could be a great movie. I'd previously read Martin Scorcese was going to produce it. Has it gone into production yet?

Don MacLaren on Sep 17, 2009


Is there any news about the actor/tress for this film? Who will play for Zapetti & Riki Dozan? Is there any other links related to this movie's production?

Awie on Nov 8, 2009


Choshu Riki, if he could lose a little weight would be a decent Rikidozan. Akira Maeda would be OK if he would get suntanned and could be cast with people as big or bigger than he is. Don Fuji might be a suitable choice as well. It would be nice if Whiting could work some ex-suketto gaijin ballplayers as extras.

Matto on Feb 22, 2010

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