Sonny Chiba, martial arts star of 'Kill Bill,' dies of Covid-19 complications

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(CNN)Shin'ichi "Sonny" Chiba's warring benignant was little balletic than it was breathtakingly brutal.

Chiba, a prima of martial arts cinema successful his autochthonal Japan, made his sanction by landing heart-stopping punches and stabbing fictional foes successful the throats with lone his fingers. His relentlessness onscreen inspired enactment auteurs similar director Quentin Tarantino and actor Keanu Reeves to emulate his benignant successful their ain works -- and thrilled viewers erstwhile they weren't covering their eyes.

Chiba, a ferociously talented martial creator whose planetary renown grew with films similar "The Street Fighter" and "Kill Bill" series, died this week from Covid-19 complications, his typical Timothy Beal confirmed to CNN. Chiba was 82.

    His warring benignant earned him celebrated admirers

      Chiba, calved Sadaho Maeda, got his commencement successful martial arts by grooming with Mas Oyama, considered a maestro of karate. And maestro it, Chiba did -- helium earned respective achromatic belts during his clip nether Oyama's wing, according to Variety. He wouldn't amusement disconnected his martial arts skills onscreen until 1973, successful the movie "Karate Kiba."

      Comparisons to famed Hong Kong American martial creator Bruce Lee were inevitable. But Chiba's chiseled warring benignant was dissimilar thing Lee attempted. Chiba went ballistic connected his enemies and appeared to usage much unit to onshore his blows, a method that de-emphasized the choreographed quality of his cinematic spars. And his characters astir ever killed his opponents.

      Sonny Chiba arsenic  Hattori Hanzo successful  Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill: Vol. 1."

      Any similarities to Lee were squashed with the 1974 merchandise of the shockingly convulsive planetary crossover deed "The Street Fighter," successful which Chiba, arsenic martial arts mercenary Takuma Tsurugi, socks a antheral hard capable to marque him suffer respective teeth, and crushes different man's skull. Chiba's protagonists were ruthless antiheroes who were consenting to spill blood, a quality trait that informs galore modern enactment films.

      "For me, the astir enjoyable relation to play is the atrocious guy," helium said successful a 2007 interview with UK TV property Jonathan Ross. He gushed that 1 peculiarly brutal country that chopped to an X-ray of a skull aft Chiba's quality smashed it was his idea, a workaround to amusement the harm of a stroke without attempting the stroke itself, helium said.

      Chiba's benignant earned him celebrated fans similar Tarantino, who archetypal referenced the large martial creator successful the 1993 film, "True Romance," for which helium penned the screenplay. Chiba would aboriginal look successful some of the director's "Kill Bill" films.

      In "True Romance," Christian Slater's Clarence Worley calls Chiba "bar none, the top histrion moving successful martial arts movies today."

      He was kinder than his fearsome movie roles fto on

      Chiba had a prolific vocation successful movie and TV, with much than 200 credits connected IMDb. Western audiences whitethorn person seen him successful 2006's "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift," successful which helium played a ruthless Yakuza boss, but astir of the films and bid helium made successful the second portion of his vocation were Japan releases.

      Chiba had different movie successful the works earlier his death, said Beal, his representative, successful an email to CNN. Despite what his adversarial roles would person audiences believe, though, Chiba was a "humble , caring and affable man," Beal said.

      Quentin Tarantino (left) sang Chiba's praises successful  his films.

      That was evident successful a 2015 interrogation with Keanu Reeves. The enactment prima of "The Matrix" and "John Wick" told a Japanese media outlet that Chiba was 1 of the top actors of martial arts cinema. Chiba past surprised Reeves during the interrogation and praised "John Wick," visibly delighting Reeves.

        "Character and enactment ... you brought together," Reeves told him. "There was ever bosom to [Chiba's characters.]"

        Chiba joked that helium could larn a happening oregon 2 from Reeves, adjacent though Chiba arguably created the blueprint artists similar Reeves tried to travel for decades. Chiba, arsenic Takuma Tsurugi, ripped throats retired with his bare hands earlier Reeves, arsenic John Wick, could creatively termination adversaries with a well-placed pencil. He ne'er made it look casual -- his characters' faces betrayed the symptom helium felt arsenic often arsenic helium dealt retired symptom to his enemies -- but the ambivalent code helium struck successful his performances inspired overmuch of the enactment fare viewers contiguous love.

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