Actor Sonny Chiba Died at 82 from COVID Complications

Actor Sonny Chiba Died at 82 from COVID Complications
Sonny Chiba

Japanese actor and martial artist Sonny Chiba has passed away from pneumonia caused by COVID-19, his manager shared with Oricon News in Japan, as reported by Variety. Chiba had been in the hospital since August 8th. Born on January 22nd, 1939 in Fukuoka, Japan as Sadaho Maeda, he enjoyed a successful career training in Karate under Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama, a master he portrayed in a 1970s trilogy. He attended Nippon Sport Science University, where he first began studying martial arts.

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Throughout his life, he achieved numerous black belts, beginning with his first in 1965 and a fourth-degree black belt in 1984, along with black belts in ninjutsu, shorinji kempo, judo, kendo and goju-ryu karate.

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He had many early roles on Japanese superhero shows such as Seven Color Mask and Messenger of Allah, in addition to director Kinji Fukasaku’s crime thrillers and the 1968-1973 TV series Key Hunter.

After making his first martial arts film, Karate Kiba, in 1973, Chiba appeared the following year in The Street Fighter, which garnered an X rating in the United States. Three decades later, he would go on to star in an equally violent film, Kill Bill: Vol. 1. He is likely best known to American audiences for that film and for his portrayal of a Yakuza boss in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

Chiba’s latest and now final film, Bond of Justice: Kizuna, is currently in post-production and slated for release on October 1st. He was originally set to star alongside Jesse Ventura and Wesley Snipes in the zombie movie Outbreak Z before the pandemic.

Among the tributes posted to Chiba’s legacy was one from filmmaker Ted Geoghegan on Twitter: “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.

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Watch one of his films today.”

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