Kill Bill star Sonny Chiba dies from complications related to coronavirus

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Kill Bill star Shinichi 'Sonny' Chiba has died aged 82 from complications related to Covid-19.

The Japanese actor and martial artist was initially hospitalised on August 8 due to contracting pneumonia, which was exacerbated by his catching Covid-19.

Japanese news outlet Oricon News reports that the influential actor – who was a six-time black belt – was given breathing treatments but eventually succumbed to illness.

The star was once considered an Olympic level athlete.

He is best known for appearing in Kill Bill Volumes I, II and The Whole Bloody Affair as Hattori Hanzo, as well as the Fast and Furious franchise, in which he portrayed Uncle Kamata in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift.

His final appearance will be in Japanese mafia flick Bond of Justice: Kizuna, which is currently in post-production.

He also made a name for himself in the Resident Evil franchise, appearing as Ezra Sennett in the 2015 Japanese stage play spin-off Biohazard The Stage.

Sonny is survived by his three children – Juri Manase, Gordon Maeda and Mackenyu Arata – who are all actors in the Japanese film industry.

The actor, who was born in 1939, went into acting after suffering a back injury which put an end to his dreams of being an Olympic athlete.

Along with his long and illustrious acting career, he is also credited for founding the Japan Action Club – which is now named Japan Action Enterprise (JAE) – a talent agency which helps train actors for stunt work and martial arts.

The agency has trained the likes of Hirokyuki Sanada, who famously starred in Westworld and Mortal Kombat.

Tributes have already been flooding in for the late star, with one fan emotionally penning on Twitter: "RIP Sonny Chiba. You never dropped the ball, you beautiful man."

Another posted: "RIP Sonny Chiba, a legend and a hero. I first saw The Street Fighter (1974) on a cheap bargain-bin DVD when I was 15 and still remember the highly formative moment when Chiba righteously ripped off a guy's johnson. I actually rewound it because I didn't believe I had seen it."

"RIP Sonny Chiba, the Street Fighter. A legend so larger-than-life, so ferocious, so awesome that wolfman Chiba was just a meaner angrier Chiba. His skull-crushing bone-crunching bear-fighting legacy will not be forgotten," someone else tweeted.

A fourth fan posted: "Rest In Peace, legend. Thank you for all of the fun you provided!" with a red heart emoji.

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