Photo of Sonny Chiba Sonny Chiba

An iconic martial arts actor who earned a spot on Japan's Olympic gymnastics team as a teenager, Sonny Chiba was born Sadao Maeda in Fukuoka, Japan, on Jan. 23, 1939, and began studying karate in college under world-renowned master Masatatsu "Mas" Oyama.

After changing his name in the 1960s, Chiba broke into film and took a brief hiatus from making movies to open his own school for would-be martial arts actors before springing back to the big screen in a series of international hits -- including The Street Fighter (1974), The Bodyguard (1974) and Bullet Train (1975) -- and becoming one of the most famous film personalities in Japan.

Later in his career, Chiba enjoyed a resurgence in popularity when he joined the cast of director Quentin Tarantino's homage to the kung fu genre, the revenge epic Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003).

Sonny Chiba in Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Kill Bill: Vol. 1

2003 R

In the first volume of this gritty revenge saga, an assassin is shot at the altar by her ruthless employer, Bill, and other members of their assassination circle. But she survives and sets out to kill all those who wronged her, saving Bill for last.

  • Sonny Chiba in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift
  • Sonny Chiba in Sushi Girl Sushi Girl
  • Sonny Chiba in Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2 Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2
  • Sonny Chiba in Soul of Bruce Lee Soul of Bruce Lee
  • Sonny Chiba in Jackie Chan: The Kung Fu Years / Force 5 Jackie Chan: The Kung Fu Years / Force 5
  • Sonny Chiba in The Bushido Blade The Bushido Blade
  • Sonny Chiba in Storm Riders Storm Riders
  • Sonny Chiba in Invasion of the Neptune Men Invasion of the Neptune Men
  • Sonny Chiba in Martial Arts Masters Martial Arts Masters
  • Sonny Chiba in Dragon Princess Dragon Princess
  • Sonny Chiba in G.I. Samurai G.I. Samurai
  • Sonny Chiba in Yellow Fangs Yellow Fangs
  • Sonny Chiba in Fighting Fist Fighting Fist
  • Sonny Chiba in Sure Death Revenge Sure Death Revenge
  • Sonny Chiba in Deadly Buddhist Raiders Deadly Buddhist Raiders