ASIAN FILM - News
11:00 - 6th April 2015, by NEO Staff

Sonny Chiba 54

Japan’s answer to Bruce Lee has become a legend in his own right and is equally as popular abroad as he is in his homeland. With a career spanning over 50 years, the action superstar has starred in cult classics like The Executioner and The Killing Machine and enjoys an international fanbase!

Street Fighter Trilogy (1974)
This series of exploitation films is infamous for a scene which shows anti-hero Terry Tsurugi (played by Chiba) piercing a man’s throat with his fingers and punching another guy’s skull so hard his eyes pop out of his head. When the first and best instalment was released back in 1974, it received an X-rating for its extreme violent content. Although less shocking by today’s standards, the Street Fighter trilogy of films still manages to pack an almighty punch. Eeee-Yah!

Champion of Death (1975 – 1977)
The first of three films loosely based on the life of martial arts icon Mas Oyama takes place after World War II. Chiba plays the role of his former teacher, who was famous for fighting and killing bulls with one blow – as is depicted in this film, also known as Karate Bullfighter. In the next film, Karate Bear Fighter he fights a… well, a bear. In the last of the Oyama trilogy, Karate For Life, Chiba goes up against a wrestler in a display of stunning fight choreography.

Shogun’s Samurai (1978)
Set in 17th-century Japan, Shogun’s Samurai is a fantastic historical drama depicting sibling rivalry after the ruling Tokugawa Shogun dies. Chiba portrays the awesome swordsman Yagyu Jubei who is responsible for the Shogun’s death. The film received five Japan Academy Prize nominations, including one for Chiba as best supporting actor. The film also spawned a sequel plus a successful TV series called The Yagu Conspiracy in which Chiba reprised his role as the all in black swordfighter with an eye-patch.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2001)
Chiba plays retired samurai sword maker Hattori Hanzo (a character relating to the one he had played during the ‘80s in the popular Japanese TV series Shadow Warriors) in Quentin Tarantino’s ultra-violent homage to the kung fu craze of the ‘70s. The Bride, played by Uma Thurman, has vermin to kill and needs Japanese steel created by the master craftsman to get the job done. This role further raised Chiba’s profile in the west and is the one many of his younger fans know him best for playing.

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