While the Japanese actor Sonny Chiba has just passed away, we invite you to discover an interview we conducted in 2016 with this legend. A meeting where he evoked his work with Tarantino and his love … of Belmondo!
Sonny Chiba, martial arts legend known to the general public thanks to his role in Kill Bill, has passed away at the age of 82. DashFUN had the privilege of meeting the Japanese actor in 2016 as part of the Paris Manga & Sci-Fi Show, of which he was one of the guests. An interview to discover below in which he evoked his collaboration with Quentin Tarantino, his favorite filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku, his missed date with Bruce Lee and his love of a certain … Jean-Paul Belmondo!
DashFUN: The general public discovered you with “Kill Bill”. Do you remember your first meeting with Quentin Tarantino?
Sonny Chiba : Quentin Tarantino had traveled to Japan to meet me and Kinji Fukasaku (editor’s note: the director of Battle Royale), but I was in LA at the time so we missed each other. Another meeting could be organized in LA and I remember that we had discussed a lot during this interview, particularly about the cinema. Tarantino loves Japan, it’s a culture he knows a lot. He has the spirit of the samurai (bushido) in him, and for an American, he knows his subject really well.
Kinji Fukasaku (“Battle Royale”) is your favorite filmmaker. What memories do you keep of him? And which film did you prefer to shoot with him?
He was a very intelligent and very studious person who was interested in many subjects in life. He is for me in the Pantheon of the best directors that Japan has known. He had a Hollywood approach to his directing, but he also did a lot of research before his shoots. He was someone who perfectly mastered the technical aspect of his job but who also had a very solid theoretical knowledge in terms of realization.
As for the film that I preferred to shoot with him… there are so many! I loved shooting under his direction, it was a festive event every time and everyone on the set had a lot of fun. I still have many memories in my head from each shoot. Do you know the movie Samurai Reincarnation? I played the role of Yagyu Jubei, a very famous samurai in Japan. It’s a movie that I really loved.
The trailer for “The Street Fighter”:
How is French cinema perceived in Japan? What are your favorite French films?
Due to the historical aspect of these countries, we prefer French and Italian films to American cinema. For example, I love L’Homme de Rio with Jean-Paul Belmondo, as well as The Professional. Ah, Jean-Paul, I love it! There is also Les Aventuriers with Alain Delon and Lino Ventura, this film in which they go in search of treasures buried under the sea. I am a great admirer of European cinema and I would very much like to shoot a film in France.
What memories do you keep of the filming of “Street Fighter”, the iconic saga that revealed you?
I remember back then, when we were shooting fight scenes, there was no one there to do the stunts. So I had to make up myself to shoot the reverse shot and do the stunts myself when I was fighting. At the time, there was a real lack of stuntmen for action cinema. That’s why I founded the Japan Action Club (editor’s note: a school aimed at training in combat and film stunts).
Is it true that you had plans to shoot a movie with Bruce Lee?
I flew from Japan and by the time I got to Hong Kong Bruce Lee was dead. It really was an unfortunate coincidence.
Interview by Clément Cusseau on February 20, 2016 in Paris
Sonny Chiba in “Kill Bill”: