On Thursday, Sonny Chiba’s agent and manager told Variety that the 82-year-old actor had died due to complications arising from COVID-19. He was not vaccinated. The famous and popular Japanese actor and martial arts expert had acted in a few popular American films and several Japanese films.
The legendary marital expert had a close to six-decade long career in Japanese and American films. Following which he choreographed fight scenes. One of his early hits was “The Street Fighter” which was released in 1974. His final posthumous role will be in the film “Bond of Justice: Kizuma.”
Sonny Chiba was born on January 22, 1939, in Sadaho Maeda, Fukuoka in Japan. He excelled in all the martial arts but had begun his career with excellent karate skills that helped him make a name for himself in Japanese films as well as TV series. He reprised roles as samurai fighters and police detectives. He did many of his own stunts in his movies.
He began acting in Japanese superhero films in the sixties with the name Shinichi Chiba. He is mostly recognized for his role as Hattori Hanzo, a swordsmith in Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Vol 2, by Quentin Tarantino and as a Yakuza boss and uncle of Takashi in The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift. He has also played both lead and supporting roles in several movies including
- The Bullet Train
- Champion of Death
- The Storm Riders
- Karate Warriors
- Doberman Cop
- Shogun’s Samurai
- I. Samurai
Sonny Chiba has a black belt in several martial arts such as
- Goju-ryu karate.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that awards the Oscars called him a legend and said that he “blended toughness with depth.”
His agent Timothy Beal mentioned his humility and called him a “caring and friendly man.” He also told AFP news agency that Sonny Chiba had not only been an “awesome client” but had also been “a great friend.”
Thousands of fans paid tribute to him on social media. He is survived by three children, who are also actors.