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'Sonny' Chiba, veteran action star of 'Kill Bill,' dies of COVID-19

Japanese actor's career began in 1960s and earned him international fame

Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba poses in Honolulu in 2005, when he received the Hawaii International Film Festival's Maverick Award.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japanese actor Shinichi Chiba, also known as Sonny Chiba, who dazzled action movie fans in Japan and abroad, died Thursday at a hospital in Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo due to pneumonia associated with COVID-19, his office said.

He was 82.

Chiba, the Fukuoka native, gained nationwide popularity through his role in the television drama series "Key Hunter," which began in the late 1960s.

The karate movie "Gekitotsu! Satsujin ken" in the 1970s featuring his action-filled performances became a hit in the U.S., and its popularity endures outside Japan.

Chiba also appeared in filmmaker Quentin Tarantino's 2003 movie "Kill Bill: Vol.1."

Uma Thurman and  Sonny Chiba, two of the stars of "Kill Bill: Vol. 1," greet each other at the film's premiere in Hollywood in September 2003.    © Reuters

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