Chiba, a ferociously talented martial artist whose international fame grew with films such as “The Street Fighter” and “Kill Bill” series, died this week from complications of Covid-19, his representative Timothy Beal confirmed to NewsMadura. Chiba was 82.
Comparisons with the famous Hong Kong American martial artist Bruce Lee were inevitable. But Chiba’s distinct fighting style was unlike anything Lee tried. Going ballistic at his enemies, Chiba seemed to use more force to deliver his blows, a method that emphasized the choreographed nature of his cinematic spars less. And his characters almost always killed his opponents.
Any similarities to Lee were crushed with the 1974 release of the shockingly violent international crossover hit “The Street Fighter,” in which Chiba, as martial arts mercenary Takuma Tsurugi, makes one man socks hard enough to make him lose several teeth, and the other. crushes skull. Chiba’s protagonists were ruthless anti-heroes willing to shed blood, a character trait that inspires many contemporary action movies.
Chiba’s style has won him famous fans such as Tarantino, who first referred to the great martial artist in the 1993 film ‘True Romance’, for which he wrote the screenplay. Chiba would later appear in both of the director’s “Kill Bill” films.
He was kinder than his terrifying movie roles showed
Chiba had a prolific career in film and TV, with over 200 credits on IMDb. Western audiences may have seen him in 2006’s “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift,” in which he played a ruthless Yakuza boss, but most of the films and series he made in the latter part of his career were Japanese releases. .
Chiba had one more movie in the works before his death, Beal, his representative, said in an email to NewsMadura. Despite what his hostile roles would lead audiences to believe, Chiba was a “humble, caring and kind man,” Beal said.
“Character and action… brought you together,” Reeves told him. “There was always a heart for it [Chiba’s characters.]”
Chiba joked that he could learn a thing or two from Reeves, although Chiba arguably created the blueprint the way Reeves tried to follow for decades. Chiba, as Takuma Tsurugi, ripped his throat with his bare hands before Reeves, as John Wick, could creatively kill opponents with a well-placed pencil. He never made it look easy—the faces of his characters betray the pain he felt, as often as he hurt his enemies—but the ambivalent tone he struck in his performances inspired many of the action movie viewers who adore them today.