Few cult films occupy a space as singular as Nobuhiko Obayashi’s 1977 psychedelic horror-comedy “House.” Among its ensemble cast of characters, the role of Kung Fu, played by Miki Jinbo, stands out for her memorable, action-packed performance. But in the years following “House,” Jinbo’s presence in the limelight dimmed, leading many fans to wonder: what ever happened to the actress who brought Kung Fu to life?
Miki Jinbo got her start as a performer while still in junior high school, winning a talent competition on the TV show Star Tanjō! in 1976. That same year she signed with Philips Records and debuted as a singer with the single “Hajimete no Waltz.” She quickly branched out into acting as well, taking on notable roles in the 1976 film Yōba while still a teenager.
It was “House” that catapulted Jinbo into cult stardom at just 17 years old. The film, directed by the then-advertising whiz-kid Nobuhiko Obayashi, was a hallucinogenic tale of a group of schoolgirls who travel to a countryside home, only to encounter surreal and supernatural events.
Jinbo’s character, Kung Fu, was known for her martial arts prowess and her heroic, albeit quirky, disposition.
“House” was initially met with confusion but has since become a beloved piece of cinema, celebrated for its bizarre narrative, wild special effects, and the unique charm of its young cast, including Jinbo. The film’s legacy has endured, with frequent screenings at film festivals and retrospectives dedicated to Obayashi’s work.
fter playing Kung Fu in the 1977 hit horror-comedy House, Miki Jinbo went on to steadily build her acting career over the following decades. Throughout the 1980s, Jinbo starred in various TV movies and dramas, including the police series Toyama Reiko in 1980.
She also acted in films like Women Who Do Not Divorce in 1986. In the 1990s, Jinbo continued taking TV roles, co-starring in historical dramas such as Yoshitsune Minamoto in 1991. Her last credited role came in 2009 for the tv movie, Kyôtarô Nishimura’s Travel Mystery 51.
What Miki Jinbo Is Doing Now?
Now 64 years old, Miki Jinbo largely retired from acting over a decade ago and has been living a quiet life out of the spotlight. However, she did make one prominent return to her roots in 2019 when she reunited with Ai Matsubara, who played Melody in the classic film House.
The two actresses, who have remained friends since starring together over 40 years ago, reminisced fondly about their memories working on the beloved horror-comedy. They discussed how director Nobuhiko Obayashi selected them for their roles and guided them through the challenging filming as teenagers.
Despite first coming to fame as the lively Kung Fu in House, Jinbo values her privacy today, though she still looks back warmly on the movie that launched her career and the friendships it created.