Kill Bill star Sonny Chiba dies aged 82

20 August 2021, 08:04

Japanese actor Sonny Chiba
Japan Obit Sonny Chiba. Picture: PA

Chiba rose to stardom in Japan in the 1960s, portraying samurai, fighters and police detectives.

Japanese actor Sonny Chiba, who wowed the world with his martial arts skills in more than 100 films, including Kill Bill, has died aged 82.

Chiba, known in Japan as Shinichi Chiba, died in a hospital near Tokyo where he had been treated for Covid-19 since August 8, Tokyo-based Astraia, his management office, said in a statement.

It said he had not been vaccinated.

Chiba rose to stardom in Japan in the 1960s, portraying samurai, fighters and police detectives, the anguished so-called “anti-heroes” trying to survive in a violent world.

Japanese actor Sonny Chiba on horseback in Kanazawa, west of Tokyo
Sonny Chiba on horseback in Kanazawa, west of Tokyo (Kyodo News via AP)

He did many of the stunt scenes himself.

His overseas career took off after his 1970s Japanese film The Street Fighter proved popular in the US.

American director Quentin Tarantino listed the work as among his “grindhouse”, or low-budget kitsch cinema, favourites.

Tarantino cast Chiba in the role of Hattori Hanzo, a master swordsmith in Kill Bill.

Chiba appeared in the 1991 Hollywood film Aces, directed by John Glen, as well as in Hong Kong movies.

Chiba’s career also got a boost from the global boom in kung fu films, set off by Chinese legend Bruce Lee, although critics say Chiba tended to exhibit a dirtier, thug-like fighting style than Lee.

“A true action legend. Your films are eternal and your energy an inspiration. #SonnyChiba #RIP,” American actor Lewis Tan said on Twitter.

New York-based writer and director Ted Geoghegan called him “the great Sonny Chiba”.

Japanese actor Sonny Chiba
Sonny Chiba set up Japan Action Club to develop a younger generation of actors (Kyodo News via AP)

“Watch one of his films today,” Geoghegan tweeted, followed by images of a fist and a broken heart.

Other fans mournfully filled Twitter threads with clips of his movies and photos.

Born in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, Chiba studied at Nippon Sport Science University and trained in various martial arts, earning a fourth-degree black belt in karate.

Chiba set up Japan Action Club in 1980 to develop a younger generation of actors, including protege Hiroyuki Sanada, who is among Hollywood’s most coveted Japanese actors, landing roles in The Last Samurai and Rush Hour 3.

Chiba is survived by his three children, Juri Manase, Mackenyu Arata and Gordon Maeda, all actors.

By Press Association

Latest World News

See more Latest World News

Nigeria Church Stampede

31 dead in church fair stampede in Nigeria

Russia Ukraine War

Russia takes small cities as it aims to widen battle in east Ukraine

Iran accused of piracy for seizing two Greek oil tankers

Fears oil price will rise again after Iran accused of piracy for seizing Greek oil tankers

Building Collapse-Florida

Judge in US gives initial OK to a billion-dollar deal in Florida condo collapse

Cardinal Angelo Sodano

Powerful Vatican prelate Cardinal Angelo Sodano dies aged 94

Donald Trump

Senior Republicans’ claims at NRA rally called into question

Iranian collapse

Iranian police disperse crowd gathered at collapsed building

Shattered building in Mariupol

Ukrainian leaders fear repeat of Mariupol horrors in Donbas region

A grieving woman at the memorial

Girl ‘pleaded for police help’ while officers waited outside massacre classroom

Wang Yi

Chinese foreign minister visits Samoa to deepen Pacific ties

Donald Trump called for the end to gun-free zones in schools

Trump calls for end to gun-free school zones after 'savage and barbaric' Texas shooting

Fusako Shigenobu and her daughter Mei

Japanese terror group founder freed after serving 20-year sentence

People work on a flooded field

13 dead, three missing after torrential rains in southern China

Protesters hold a rally at Discovery Green Park, across the street from the National Rifle Association Annual Meeting held at the George R. Brown Convention Center Friday, May 27, 2022, in Houston.

Governor claims he was ‘misled’ about response to shooting

Russian Emergency Situations Ministry workers disassemble a destroyed building in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, Friday, May 27, 2022

Russian Communist deputy makes statement of opposition to war in Ukraine

Texas School Shooting

School shooting survivor covered herself in friend’s blood and played dead