The star’s rep. Confirmed to Fox News that Chiba died off COVID-19 complications Wednesday at a hospital outside Tokyo.
The Japanese actor’s career began in 1959, per IMDb, when he appeared in a TV series called “Nana-iro kamen“(otherwise known as” Seven Color Mask “). He became a staple in Japanese film – especially those that allowed him to show off his martial arts skills in full.
In the following years, he would eventually break into Western cinema and star in both. “Kill Bill“movie and” The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift. “
According to Variety, he started martial arts in 1957 while studying at Nippon Sport Science University. In 1965, he earned a first-degree black belt after studying under karate master Masutatsu “Mas” Oyama, before earning a fourth-degree black belt in 1984.
He later played his own teacher in three films in the 1970s – “Champion of Death”, “Karate Bearfighter” and “Karate for Life”.
He also wore black belts in ninjutsu, shorinji kempo, judo, kendo and goju-ryu karate.
Chiba’s first martial arts film did not appear until 1973, when he starred in “Karate Kiba”. Next year’s “The Street Fighter” would see him break into international markets when it was released in the US – the film was rated X for Violence.
In the “Kill Bill” movies, Chiba played the memorable role of Hattori Hanzo, a sushi shop owner who makes magazines for Uma Thurman’s despised and vengeful protagonist. In “Tokyo Drift,” he played a Yakuza boss and an uncle of the film’s main antagonist.
According to Variety, he was set to star in a movie called “Outbreak Z” with Jesse Ventura, Martin Lawrence and Wesley Snipes before the pandemic.
His last role will be in the as yet unreleased “Bond of Justice: Kizuna”.
He is survived by three children, Juri Manase, 46, Mackenyu Arata, 24, and Gordon Maeda, 21, who are also actors.
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