FORGET Takuya Kimura. Yosuke Kubozuka is hot. So hot that even his two-year-old movie Laundry is currently being re-released on the big screen. Kubozuka's gradual climb to fame began with his debut television appearance, an episode of drama series Kindaichi Shonen No Kikenbo (The Files of Young Kindaichi) in 1995. At 23, the fashion icon got his big break in 2001's Go!. With his role as a Japanese-Korean boy struggling through life, he won a number of best actor and best newcomer awards, including gongs at the Japanese Academy Awards. Hong Kong film distributors noticed this rising star from Japan, and imported Go! early last year. Next came, Ping Pong, a film adapted from a comical series of the same name, which was shown here in October. Kubozuka played lead role Peko, a high school boy who is passionate about table tennis. The movie was well-received and Kubozuka suddenly became a household name. Cashing in on his popularity, Laundry and last year's drama series Long Love Letter were released. Laundry received international critical acclaim when it was shown at film festivals in Rotterdam, Hawaii and Sundance, Utah. Its script won the Sundance/NHK International Screenwriters Award in 2000. In Laundry,Kubozuka is convincing in the heartwarming role of Teru, a mentally-impaired 20-year-old who works at a laundrette. He meets the suicidal Mizue one day while she is doing her laundry. Mizue accidentally leaves a dress in the dryer, and Teru sets out to find her and return it. If you have Cable TV, then you can also catch Kubozuka on the Entertainment Channel in his latest drama series Long Love Letter, starring opposite Takako Tokiwa. Tokiwa plays a flower shop owner who dates college student Kubozuka. The couple lose contact in an accident and the drama follows their search for each other. Kubozuka has completed three new films. Already shown in Japan is the violent Kyouki No Sakura, in which Kubozuka leads two other young men to clear the gangs by force. Another is Keimusho No Naka (Inside The Prison), a comedy about prison life. Although Kubozuka doesn't play a major part, distributors might still want to sell the film using his name and face. The latest movie is Makai Tenshou (Samurai Reincarnation), which was finished last month. Makai Tenshou is a remake of the 1981 classic. The film relates the myth of reincarnated samurai Tokisada Amakusa Shiro, who, along with a group of supernatural warriors, takes on the Japanese warlords. So 2003 is shaping up to be the year of Kubozuka.