Shin’ichi ‘Sonny’ Chiba, ‘Fast and Furious’ and ‘Kill Bill’ Actor and Martial Artist, Dead at 82

Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba, the martial artist and actor who appeared in the films The Fast and Furious: Tokyo Drift and Kill Bill Volume 1, died on Thursday, according to The Japan Times. He was 82 years old. Chiba had reportedly contacted COVID-19 at the end of July and was treated without being hospitalized. He was then sent to the hospital on Aug. 8 after his pneumonia worsened.

Chiba has appeared in dozens of films and television shows since the early 1960s. He gained popularity when he appeared in Kill Bill Volume 1 as Hattori Hanzo, a sushi restaurant owner who was actually a sword maker who crafted a katana for Uma Thurman’s Bride after she asked for “Japanese steel” to seek out revenge for the people who tried to kill her. In The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Chiba played Boss Kamata and starred along with Lucas Black and Bow Wow.

Before those films, Chiba starred in the martial arts films Battles Without Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima (1973) and The Street Fighter (1974). In 1970, Chiba established a training school for aspiring martial arts film actors, the Japan Action Club.

In in 2011 interview with Media Mikes, Chiba talked about his love of working in front and behind the camera. “They are two sides of the same blade,” he said. “Everything is connected. There is a right time for everything and I enjoy it all. Recently I have really been enjoying writing. I can go have dinner and suddenly get the urge to write and just stay there all night. I write on whatever I can get a hold of (paper, napkin, etc.) and then forget to eat the meal I ordered.”

In 1972, Chiba married actress Yoko Nogiwa. The couple got divorced in 1994, and Chiba remarried Tamami Chiba in 1996, which ended in divorce in 2015. Sony Chiba is survived by his three children, Juri Manase (46), Mackenyu Arata (24) and Gordon Maeda (21).

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