Kill Bill Actor and Martial Arts Legend Sonny Chiba Dead at 82

Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba, who appeared in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and a number of martial arts films, died Aug. 19 from COVID-19 complications.

By Ryan Gajewski Aug 20, 2021 7:37 AMTags

Film fans are mourning the loss of an iconic action star.

Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba died Thursday, Aug. 19 from COVID-19 complications at age 82, according to his management team. In addition to roles in such Hollywood films as The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill saga, the performer was also known for numerous Japanese martial arts movies dating back to the early 1960s.

Sonny's manager, Timothy Beal, told CNN in an email that the star was a "humble, caring and friendly man." 

During a 2007 interview with British host Jonathan Ross, Sonny explained that he didn't have a problem with portraying villainous characters. "For me, the most enjoyable role to play was the bad guy," the actor said at the time. "I particularly like the bad guy."

He also shared that he was an ardent Bruce Lee fan and had tried to meet him. "I went to Hong Kong to meet him once," Sonny shared. "I waited there for two days, but I didn't get to meet him because that's just when he died. If I could have met him, I think we could have had some exciting, interesting conversations."

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Sonny portrayed Hattori Hanzō in both 2003's Kill Bill: Volume 1 and 2004's follow-up Kill Bill: Volume 2, alongside fellow cast members Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine. He later played Boss Kamata in 2006's The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. 

VCG/VCG via Getty Images

The official Twitter account for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences posted a tribute to the late star on Aug. 19. "In 50 years on screen, Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba grew from actor to fight choreographer to legend," the message read in part. "He will be missed."

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