Hiroyuki Sanada in Army of the Dead

We’ve had to wait longer than initially expected for John Wick: Chapter 4 due to a certain pandemic wreaking havoc on the film industry, but the next installment of the Keanu Reeves-led action franchise is finally about to begin principal photography. As such, in recent weeks, we’ve been learned who will be joining Reeves in the Chapter 4 cast, and today brings word that Army of the Dead actor Hiroyuki Sanada will be part of that lineup.

This casting update comes to us from Collider, which has heard from sources that Hiroyuki Sanada has been brought aboard to play a “key character” named Watanabe, though it’s unclear how specifically this individual fits into John Wick: Chapter 4’s plot. That said, if you’ve been following Chapter 4 news, that name should sound familiar, as Laurence Fishburne, who’s reprising The Bowery King, mentioned Watanabe while praising the upcoming movie’s script.

As already noted, Hiroyuki Sanada most recently starred as Bly Tanaka in the Zack Snyder-directed Netflix film Army of the Dead, and earlier in the year, he played Scorpion in the Mortal Kombat reboot. His other notable credits include The Last Samurai, Rush Hour 3, The Wolverine, Avengers: Endgame, Revenge and Westworld, and he’s also attached to the upcoming Bullet Train. Interestingly enough, back when John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum was in development, it was reported that Sanada had been cast as the main villain, although obviously this didn’t end up happening.

No plot details have been revealed yet for John Wick: Chapter 4 yet, although John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum certainly laid the groundwork for things to kick up a notch in this world. After being shot by Winston and falling off the rooftop of The Continental, the badly injured John was retrieved by The Tick Tock Man and brought to The Bowery King, who was recovering from being slashed up as punishment for helping John in Chapter 2. Angry at The High Table for how it’d retaliated against him, Bowery King asked John if he was also angry, and the protagonist answered affirmatively. So now the stage is set for these men to exact revenge on the ruling council of crime lords in Chapter 4.

Directed by Chad Stahelski and written by Shay Hatten (who also penned Army of the Dead) and Michael Finch, John Wick: Chapter 4 will film in places like Paris, Berlin, New York City and Japan. Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne and Hiroyuki Sanada’s cast-mates include Rina Sawayama, Donnie Yen (who will play an old friend of John’s), Shamier Anderson and Bill Skarsgård. Originally the plan was for Chapter 4 to film back-to-back with John Wick: Chapter 5, but now the latter project will roll cameras as a separate production.

We’ll learn how Hiroyuki Sanada’s Watanabe fits into the John Wick: Chapter 4 picture when the movies comes out on May 27, 2022. While we wait for more Chapter 4 castings and news, stay apprised of movies coming out later this year with our 2021 release schedule.

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