R.I.P. Sonny Chiba (1939-2021)

“Well, he ain’t so much a good guy as he is just a bad motherfucker.”Quentin Tarantino

Everyone here at AOBG is very saddened to hear of the passing of Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba. A true legend of the martial arts genre, and of Japanese cinema in general, was lost today at the age of 82. The legacy he leaves behind is immense – many of his films still have not had a proper English release – and his impact on the genre cannot be overstated. Like many fans, I was introduced to Mr. Chiba through “The Street Fighter” and was impressed by the sheer ferocity of his performance. Chiba was a different kind of hero in that film, a rougher and sometimes amoral karate master that wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, figuratively and literally. (The brutality of the action scenes in “The Street Fighter” has been widely imitated for a reason.) Seeing Chiba become more well-known in the West, after mentor roles in later films like “Kill Bill” and “Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” was a delight. I’m glad he knew how many fans he had all around the world before his passing. Our hearts are with his family today.