Sonny Chiba, Kill Bill star and a 'true action legend,' dies from COVID-19 complications

Sonny Chiba
(Image credit: David Livingston/Getty Images)

Sonny Chiba, the legendary martial artist who starred in films like Kill Bill, has died at 82.

The Japanese actor's agent confirmed his death on Thursday to Variety, which reported the cause was related to COVID-19 complications.

Chiba, a trained martial artist who held multiple black belts, was known for starring in Japanese movies including 1974's The Street Fighter, as well as for his appearances in American movies like The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift and Kill Bill: Volume 1. In the latter Quentin Tarantino film, Chiba memorably played swordsmith Hattori Hanzō. Tarantino previously paid tribute to Chiba's work in 1993's True Romance, in which the protagonist describes him as "bar none the finest actor working in martial arts movies today." With a long list of film credits under his belt going back to the 1960s, he was "Japan's most popular action star for decades," filmmaker Ted Geoghegan wrote.

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Mortal Kombat actor Lewis Tan remembered Chiba as a "true action legend," adding, "Your films are eternal and your energy an inspiration."

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