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John Wick Chapter 4's Hiroyuki Sanada Teases A History With Keanu Reeves' Hero In The Upcoming Sequel

Months after John Wick: Chapter 4 wrapped up filming, fans finally got a first look at Keanu Reeves’ return as the eponymous assassin with the movie's debut teaser. That was followed by John Wick 4’s Comic-Con trailer showing the killer waging war on The High Table after the events of John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum. As with every installment, the titular assassin is dealing with familiar allies and new enemies. One of the fresh faces in the forthcoming sequel is Bullet Train star Hiroyuki Sanada. The film isn’t the first time Sanada and Reeves have worked together, as they co-starred in 2013’s 47 Ronin, and having an already proven rapport, Sanada has teased a history with the hero in the upcoming sequel.

During the virtual press day for Bullet Train, CinemaBlend spoke with Hiroyuki Sanada about his work on John Wick: Chapter 4. The actor was asked about reuniting with Keanu Reeves almost a decade after starring together in the action fantasy, and he revealed how their shared history influenced their characters’ connection. Said Sanada,

I worked with Keanu before on 47 Ronin, almost like 10 years ago. So it was a great reunion, and then we have that kind of history in real life, so we could use that kind of atmosphere or chemistry into the movie. So that kind of relationship is in the movie too. So that's the biggest hint.

The 61-year-old actor seemed to suggest that his John Wick: Chapter 4 character, Shimazu, might be a friend rather than a foe for the main hero. The suggested connection between the two characters might mirror the one between Keanu Reeves’ Kai and Hiroyuki Sanada’s Ronin leader Yoshio Oishi in 47 Ronin. It’ll be great to see the influence of the actors' past together on their characters. 

John Wick almost supplied the off-camera friends an onscreen reunion earlier than Chapter 4. It was reported that Hiroyuki Sanada was close to playing Zero in John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum, but he suffered an injury that led to Mark Dacascos being tapped to play the film’s primary antagonist instead. Given Zero’s prompt death in that movie, perhaps everything worked out in Sanada’s favor.

Maybe if things work out for Shimazu in John Wick 4, viewers would get to see him again in Chapter 5. The fifth installment was originally meant to be shot back-to-back with John Wick 4 before Lionsgate scrapped the idea. The delay could be good, as Keanu Reeves wants Matrix co-star Carrie Ann Moss to join the sequel, and perhaps the delay will allow that to happen. Before then, Hiroyuki Sanada will make his franchise debut in John Wick: Chapter 4, which arrives in theaters on March 24, 2023, after being officially delayed last year.

Moviegoers will see Sanada next play a different assassin when Bullet Train hits theaters on August 5. Check out CinemaBlend’s 2022 movie schedule to see what other upcoming movies are still scheduled to be released in what remains of the year.

Adreon Patterson
Adreon Patterson

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).