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 The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift

2006 PG-13

The hit franchise's third installment finds street-racer Shaun Boswell moving to Tokyo, where he's been dispatched by his family who want to keep him out of lockup. Boswell soon hooks up with a fellow American who introduces him to drift racing.

  • Sonny Chiba in Kill Bill: Vol. 1 Kill Bill: Vol. 1
  • Sonny Chiba in Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2 Wandering Ginza Butterfly 2
  • Sonny Chiba in Storm Riders Storm Riders
  • Sonny Chiba in Sushi Girl Sushi Girl
  • 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 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 Dragon Princess Dragon Princess
  • Sonny Chiba in G.I. Samurai G.I. Samurai
  • Sonny Chiba in The Bushido Blade The Bushido Blade
  • 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