Sonny Chiba is being remembered by Hollywood as a “true action legend” after the “Kill Bill” and “The Street Fighter” star died on Thursday due to complications from COVID-19.
Martial arts actor known for “Mortal Kombat” Lewis Tan, Japanese auteur Hideo Kojima and Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema shared their tributes for Chiba on Thursday.
“A true action legend. Your films are eternal and your energy an inspiration,” Tan said in a tweet Thursday.
Chiba, a skilled martial artist, starred in dozens of films and television shows since the early ’60s. Among his popular films were the “Yakuza Cop” and “Street Fighter” series in the ’70s, which launched his international career when New Line released the film and gave it an X-rating for its extreme violence.
Keanu Reeves was also a huge fan of Chiba and his martial arts work, getting the chance to meet the man he called the “maestro” when the actor surprised Reeves while doing press in Japan for “John Wick.” You can see video of the encounter below:
But Chiba had a late career standout after his portrayal of Hattori Hanzo in Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill.” He played a sushi restaurant owner who was actually a legendary sword maker who crafted a katana for Uma Thurman’s Bride after she asks for “Japanese steel” in her quest for revenge. He also appeared in “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift” and films like “The Bullet Train,” “Champion of Death” and “The Storm Riders.”
See some more reactions to Sonny Chiba’s passing below, including one from Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema, which shared an image of Chiba on set of “Kill Bill” along with Tarantino: