Japanese actor and martial artist Sonny Chiba, who appeared in Kill Bill, has died at the age of 82.
Chiba, known in Japan As Shinichi Chiba, he starred in more than 100 films during his career.
He died at a hospital near Tokyo where he had been treated for COVID-19 since Aug. 8, his administrative office, Astraia, said. He added that he had not been vaccinated.
Chiba made his mark in Japan in the 1960s as samurai, fighters, and police detectives.
He did a lot of his own stunts.
The actor rose to international stardom after his 1970s Japanese film The Street Fighter became popular in the United States.
American director Quentin Tarantino he considered the job one of his favorite “grindhouse”, or low-budget action or horror movies.
Tarantino then cast Chiba for the role of Hattori Hanzo, a master blacksmith in Kill Bill.
Chiba also appeared in the 1991 Hollywood film Aces, directed by John Glen.
He appeared in several Hong Kong films and his career was fueled by worldwide interest in kung fu films, fueled by China’s Bruce Lee, though critics say Chiba tended to display a dirtier street thug fighting style. compared to Lee.
“A true action legend. Your movies are timeless and your energy an inspiration. #SonnyChiba #RIP,” American actor Lewis Tan said on Twitter.
New York-based writer and director Ted Geoghegan described him as “the great Sonny Chiba.”
“Check out one of his movies today,” he tweeted, along with fist and broken heart emojis.
Fans mourned Chiba’s passing with clips and photos from his movies.
Chiba was born in Fukuoka, in southwestern Japan, and studied at Nippon Sport Science University.
He trained in various martial arts and earned a fourth degree black belt in karate.
He created Japan Action Club in 1980 to help develop a younger generation of actors, including his protégé Hiroyuki Sanada, who is among Hollywood’s most famous Japanese actors, having landed roles in The Last Samurai and Rush Hour 3.
Chiba is survived by her three children, Juri Manase, Mackenyu Arata, and Gordon Maeda, all actors.