Collection: Sonny Chiba

Shinichi Chiba 千葉 真一

(born January 22, 1939), known internationally as Sonny Chiba, is a Japanese actor and martial artist. Chiba was one of the first actors to achieve stardom through his skills in martial arts, initially in Japan and later before an international audience.

Sometime around 1960, he was discovered in a talent search (called "New Face") by the Toei film studio, and he began his screen career soon after. The CEO of Toei at the time bestowed him with the stage name "Shinichi Chiba."

By 1970, Chiba had started his own training school for aspiring martial arts film actors and stunt performers known as J.A.C (Japan Action Club). He starred in the Karate Kiba (Bodyguard Kiba), after appearing on the Battles Without Honor and Humanity: Deadly Fight in Hiroshima in 1973. Karate Kiba was the first movie for him about martial arts. Chiba's breakthrough international hit was The Street Fighter (1974) which was brought to Western audiences (dubbed in English) by New Line Cinema. The film and its sequels established him as the reigning Japanese martial arts actor in international cinema for the next two decades. It was New Line Cinema founder Robert Shaye who gave Chiba the English name "Sonny", which Chiba would adopt as his own (mostly for non-Japanese projects) from that point on.

In his fifties, the actor resumed working as a choreographer of martial arts sequences. At the dawn of the 21st century, Chiba was as busy as ever in feature films and also starring in his own series in Japan. Roles in Takashi Miike's Deadly Outlaw: Rekka and his work with directors Kenta and Kinji Fukasaku in Battle Royale II effectively bridged the gap between modern day and yesteryear cinematic cult legends. Chiba's enduring onscreen career received a tribute when he appeared in a key role as Hattori Hanzo, the owner of a sushi restaurant and retired samurai sword craftsman, in director Quentin Tarantino's bloody revenge epic Kill Bill in 2003.

Chiba has starred in more than 125 films for Toei Studios and has won numerous awards in Japan for his acting. After appearing in the taiga drama Fūrin Kazan in november 2007, he announced the retirement of the stage name Shinichi Chiba and will now be known (in Japan) as J.J. Sonny Chiba (JJサニー千葉, Justice Japan Sonny Chiba) as an actor and Rindō Wachinaga (和千永 倫道, Wachinaga Rindō) as a film director. Chiba established the Japan Action Club, now Japan Action Enterprise (JAE) to develop and raise the level of martial arts techniques and sequences used in Japanese film and television.

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