We can’t endorse celebrating Sonny Chiba’s birthday by indulging in the herb that has become his namesake. We’ll just note that Sonny Chiba–born January 23, 1939–became famous in America while making movies that were often watched by a stoned audience. He had already made over 40 movies in Japan before breaking out in America with 1974’s The Street Fighter. He didn’t break out like Bruce Lee, but Chiba soon became a drive-in hero for starring in the first movie to ever be rated X exclusively for violence. We used to think that was just a claim made up for the Street Fighter ad campaign, but it turns out that Street Fighter really did get an X rating. The producers were smart to embrace it. (Also, the ad campaign managed to kill any suggestion that the film might contain hardcore sex.)

Chiba went on more grindhouse greatness with The Executioner and other Street Fighter films. He still returned to concentrating on films for his Asian audience by the start of the ’80s. Then came the inevitable rediscovery, with Chiba having lots of fun as an old sword maker in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill movies. He’s also in The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, and last year’s Sushi Girl was a cool indie item. The Street Fighter is still a tough act to follow. Check out the original American trailer, and try to keep track of how many movies have been influenced by this classic…

Oh, the Celebrity Watchdog has been around the block a few times--often urinating all over the Great White Way and the Hollywood Walk of Fame and even a couple of times on the great theaters of the West End. It is shameful.