Los Angeles (AFP) – Sonny Chiba, a Japanese martial arts expert and actor who appeared in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, has died from Covid-19 complications, his agent said Thursday. He was 82.
“Sonny passed away from Covid-19 yesterday,” Timothy Beal told AFP.
“Such tragic news. He was a great friend and an awesome client. Such a humble, caring and friendly man.”
Born Sadaho Maeda in 1939 in Fukuoka, in the southwest of Japan, Chiba studied martial arts throughout the 1960s, becoming a particular expert in karate.
His skills landed him numerous roles in Japanese films and television series, including with the influential Toei studio, who recruited him in a competition for new talent.
In the wake of Bruce Lee’s worldwide success, Chiba made a name for himself outside Japan as an ultra-violent henchman in The Street Fighter trilogy.
That performance left an impression on a youthful Tarantino, who would later cast him to play samurai-turned-sushi-chef Hattori Hanzo, who forges a sword to help Uma Thurman in her quest for revenge in Kill Bill.
In 2006, Chiba also had a role in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.
Beal said Chiba had been due to work on Outbreak Z, a zombie movie starring Wesley Snipes.
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