Sonny Chiba death: Kill Bill star dead at 82

Japanese actor and martial arts legend also starred in ‘The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift’

Sam Moore
Thursday 19 August 2021 16:04
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Sonny Chiba, the veteran Japanese actor famous for his role as Hanzo in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, has died aged 82.

Chiba died today (19 August) from pneumonia caused by contracting Covid-19, his agent confirmed to Variety. He was first admitted to hospital on 8 August.

Chiba was renowned as a skilled martial artist and rose to fame in the Sixties and Seventies on TV shows such as Street Fighter and Yakuza Cop.

He later gained additional recognition for his roles in several English language films, including Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill series in which he played a legendary sword maker.

Chiba also starred as the villain in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Horror filmmaker Ted Geoghegan led the tributes on social media, tweeting: The great Sonny Chiba passed away today at age 82, another victim of Covid-19.

“A martial arts legend with six black belts who started out in tokusatsu TV, Chiba made over 120 movies for Toei and was Japan’s most popular action star for decades. Watch one of his films today.”

The actor worked prolifically throughout his life, notching up over 120 credits to his name.

Some of his best known Japanese films include Champion of Death, Karate for Life and Invasion of the Neptune Men.

He acted for a number of renowned names in world cinema including Tarantino, Justin Lin, Takashi Miike and Kinji Fukasaku.

He also worked as a fight scene choreographer later in his career.

Chiba is survived by a daughter and two sons.

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