Many of you probably know Sonny Chiba from his role in Kill Bill as Hattori Hanzo, master sword maker.
It was a great performance, one that stole the movie practically, and to fans of chop socky cinema, Chiba is best known from The Street Fighter, one of the most violent 70’s karate movies ever.
Another Chiba gem was The Bodyguard, where Tarantino took the biblical passage in Pulp Fiction. ("And you will know I am Chiba The Bodyguard when I lay my vengence upon them…")
And for fans of the obscure, Chiba also starred in a 70’s Japanese Star Wars rip off called Message From Space, which had a pirate spaceship complete with a sail long before Treasure Planet, and it was also helmed by Kinji Fukasaku, director of Battle Royale and The Green Slime.
Chiba has in fact starred in many movies, his IMDB fIilmography lists 141 titles, and his career spans fifty years. Now at 72, Chiba is back in action with a four-picture deal courtesy of a company called Assembly Line.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the first film on the deal will be a film called Bushido, about samurais and Buffalo Soliders kickin’ ass together in the Civil War. Tony Todd (Platoon, Candy Man) will co-star. Chiba also worked with Assembly Line on a film called Sushi Girl, which stars Mark Hamill, Michael Biehl, and Danny Trejo. (Hey, that is some serious film geek nirvana right there.)
Sure, Chiba may not be as well known as Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris, but he was an intense fighter in his prime. And yeah, Kill Bill may not have given him a Travolta style comeback, but again, he was terrific in the film, and it’s good to have him back.