10,000 Bullets   Exploring the world of Cinema from the Arthouse to the Grindhouse™

Sonny Chiba 
Written by: on April 1st, 2004

Sadao Maeda AKA Sonny Chiba (He earned the nickname “Sonny” while working on an ad campaign for Toyota) was born on January 23rd, 1939 in Fukuoka, Kyushu, Japan. In 1960 Sonny would enter and win Toei studio’s new faces contest. There was a big push on the part of Toei to exploit Chiba as a star to the fullest by placing Chiba in roles that would showcase Chiba’s fourth-degree black belt in karate.

In 1967 with the T.V. series Key Hunter (Toei’s fuel injected variation on Mission Impossible) would give Chiba the boost his career needed and make him a bankable action star. Key Hunter would remain on the air for 5 years resulting in over 250 hour long episodes. In 1969 Chiba would form the Japan action club which was created to provide able-bodied stuntman and martial artists for any studio who was able to hire them.

The 1970’s would see Chiba at his peek in popularity with the Street Fighter films. The Street Fighter would become the first film the MPAA ever gave an X rating based on Violence. In 1979 Chiba would return to T.V. with the series Hanzo Hattori AKA Shadow Warriors. Over the next twenty years Chiba would make films in Hollywood and Hong Kong as well as continue to make films in Japan.

Part of Chiba’s resurgence in America must also be credited to writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s screenplay which features Christian Slater going to a Sonny Chiba festival. With the advent of DVD North America Has been flooded with widely uneven print quality, edited, and cropped versions of many of Chiba’s films. Sonny Chiba has enjoyed a successful film career that has spanned over 40 years. With his recent role in the blockbuster Kill Bill volume 1. He is now more popular then ever.

Through all of his ups and downs Chiba will always be remembered for his signature role Takuma “Terry” Tsurugi a vicious assassin in the series of Street Fighter Films which has earned him his cult following around the world.


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