Sonny Chiba, the Japanese actor and martial artist known internationally for appearing in Kill Bill and The Fast And The Furious, has died at the age of 82 from Covid complications, according to Japan’s Oricon News.
Chiba was a prolific actor in Japanese film and TV, racking up more than 125 credits for the famed Toei studios, and was also a noted stunt choreographer. In his later career, he attracted attention internationally by playing the sushi chef and retired samurai Hattori Hanzo in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Volume 2. Tarantino was a noted fan of Chiba; in his screenplay for True Romance, Christian Slater’s character is a fan of the actor.
After being talent spotted by the famed Toei film studio in the 1960s, Chiba (born Sadaho Maeda) starred in a variety of TV series before appearing in breakthrough film The Street Fighter, which was an international hit and led to New Line Cinema founder Robert Shaye dubbing the actor ‘Sonny’.
He then appeared in a swathe of martial arts movies through the 1970s, 80s and 90s, acting and coordinating stunts, as well as on occasion directing.
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Chiba would go on to act in Takashi Miike’s Deadly Outlaw: Rekka, Battle Royale II and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
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