Sonny Chiba, the martial arts expert and Japanese cinema legend who appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill,” has died of complications related to COVID-19 at the age of 82, we learned Thursday from his agent.
“Sonny passed away yesterday from COVID-19… He was a wonderful friend and a wonderful customer. A humble, caring and friendly man,” Timothy Bell told AFP.
Born Sadaho Maeda in 1939 in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, Sonny Chiba devoted himself to a large number of martial arts in the 1960s, becoming an expert in karate, his favorite discipline.
This knowledge allowed him to become a prolific actor in Japanese films and series, with about 125 shows on behalf of the famous Toei Studios who recruited him for a new talent competition.
In the wake of Bruce Lee’s global success, Sonny Chiba distinguished himself outside of Japan as a hyper-violent henchman in the Street Fighter trilogy.
The performance had marked Quentin Tarantino in his youth and the American director had invited Sonny Chiba to play “Kill Bill” Hattori Hanzo, a samurai-turned-cook who crafts a sword to help Uma Thurman achieve revenge.
In 2006, the Japanese actor also played a role in the movie “Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift” directed by Justin Lin.
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