TOKYO (AP) — Japanese actor Sonny Chiba, who wowed the world with his martial arts skills in more than 100 films, including “Kill Bill,” has died. He was 82.
Chiba, known in Japan as Shinichi Chiba, died late Thursday in a hospital near Tokyo where he had been treated for COVID-19 since Aug. 8, Tokyo-based Astraia, his management office, said in a statement Friday. It said he had not been vaccinated.
Chiba rose to stardom in Japan in the 1960s, portraying samurai, fighters and police detectives, the anguished so-called “anti-heroes” trying to survive in a violent world. He did many of the stunt scenes himself.
His overseas career took off after his 1970s Japanese film “The Street Fighter” proved popular in the U.S.
Born in Fukuoka, southwestern Japan, Chiba studied at Nippon Sport Science University trained in various martials arts, earning a fourth-degree black belt in karate.
Chiba set up Japan Action Club in 1980, to develop a younger generation of actors, including protege Hiroyuki Sanada, who is among Hollywood’s most coveted Japanese actors, landing roles in “The Last Samurai” and “Rush Hour 3.”
Chiba is survived by his three children, Juri Manase, Mackenyu Arata and Gordon Maeda, all actors. A wake was canceled as a pandemic measure, and funeral arrangements were still undecided, his office said.
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama