Sakurai the Danish samurai showing muscle in Marvel’s ‘Iron Fist’

David’s portrayal of the villain Scythe is another positive step in a budding career

You’ve probably never heard of him, but David Sakurai is actually emerging as one of Denmark’s premier actors in action and martial arts films.

Having played alongside the likes of Stellan Skarsgård and Antonio Banderas in the past, Sakurai has made his first big jaunt into Hollywood with his portrayal of the villain Scythe in the sixth episode of the new Netflix-produced Marvel series ‘Iron Fist’.

“It was amazingly exciting to be able to go to the Marvel studios in Brooklyn and see where they film the series ‘Daredevil’, ‘Jessica Jones’, ‘Luke Cage’ etc,” Sakurai told

“The stunt team have their own training area right in the middle of the studio, and I received two weeks training before filming started – many more days than the actual filming took.”

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Hungarian success
Sakurai may have been born and raised in Copenhagen, but the Danish-Japanese actor has made his biggest waves abroad and remains relatively unknown in Denmark.

In 2015, the 37-year-old played one of the lead roles in Hungary’s biggest ever box-office successes, the comedy adventure ‘Liza, The Fox Fairy’. Additionally, he had a role in the hit Netflix series ‘Lillyhammer’, and he has been sniffing around the Japanese film industry, living in Tokyo for a decade after he turned 18.

The son of a Danish artist mother and Japanese father, Sakurai moved from the quiet town of Frederiksværk to Japan in a bid to come to terms with his Japanese heritage. But it wasn’t until the gangster epic ‘Pusher’ came out in 1996 that he saw that actors with a different ethnic background could make a mark in Denmark.

‘Iron Fist’ has received mixed reviews so far – scoring an unimpressive 37 on Metacritic – but Marvel films tend to have massive followings regardless, and the series has scored a rating of 8.1 on IMDB. It may be the stepping stone Sakurai needs to maintain his ascension.

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Danish dreams
Sakurai’s most recent role saw him share top billing with French actress Clémentine Poidatz (‘Mars’, ‘Shut In’) in the thriller ‘Housewife’, and he is confident about his future on the silver screen despite the lack of interest in Denmark.

“There are practically just three Asian actors here in Denmark: me, Thomas Chaanhing (Netflix’s ‘Marco Polo’), and Thomas Hwan (DR’s ‘Bedrag’),” he told

“It’s not quite on the cards yet for Asian-looking actors in Denmark to be given roles that aren’t somehow defined by their ethnicity. Not as much as one could have expected has changed in Danish film since I moved to Japan in the late ’90s.”

‘Iron Fist’ is currently available to watch on Netflix.