Feature by: Jack Foley
QUENTIN Tarantino doesnt do anything by half measures,
so when he set out to create one of the greatest, most exciting
sequences in the history of cinema, audiences knew they
were in for something special.
Hence, when Uma Thurman, clad in a yellow boiler suit, walks
into a crowded restaurant, armed with only a samurai sword, and
squares off to 80-plus adversaries, all dressed in black, for
the blood-soaked finale of Kill Bill: Volume One, you can almost
hear a pin drop, such is the breathless anticipation ahead of
what is to follow.
Twenty minutes later, you emerge from the cinema exhilarated
and knowing that the director has achieved what he set out to.
For Kill Bill is exactly what Tarantino had envisaged - a
straight-ahead, heart-pumping, sit on the edge of your seat, wow,
that was a night at the movies kind of thing, which succeeds
in its desire to get audiences off.
And speaking at the London press conference, ahead of the premiere
of the movie last Thursday (October 2), with stars Uma Thurman,
Daryl Hannah and Julie Dreyfus for company, the director remains
unapologetic for delivering such a violent, straight-ahead thrill
"It can be said, you know, well, wheres the resonance?"
he continued. "And my feeling is that its there
but you dont need it, alright?
"Growing up, when I watched Avenging Eagle, or Five Fingers
of Death, I wouldnt think, wheres the resonance?
I was getting off, man! This was the shit, so thats where
I was coming from. I think its there, but it dont
have to be there. Its there if you want it."
Kill Bill is a movie told in the tradition of the Asian kung-fu
movies of the Seventies, as well as the Westerns of Sergio Leone,
which centres around The Bride (Thurman), who awakes from a coma,
vowing revenge, four years after her former crime boss, Bill,
has ordered her assassination during her wedding day.
Split into two parts, Volume One finds her tracking down the
first two members of the elite assassination squad responsible
for the wedding day massacre, while Volume Two, which follows
next February, offers the mouthwatering prospect of her finding,
and killing, Bill.
But while the director is understandably cagey about giving too
much away concerning what comes next - pausing only to state that,
now its easy to get lost and to lose your way as far
as The Brides journey is concerned... things arent
one, two, three, and real life rears its ugly head into her journey
- he is understandably excited about being asked to comment on
In fact, time spent in the directors company is almost
as exhilarating as watching one of his films, such is the infectious
energy he exudes when talking about his work.
Take, for instance, his co-star, Dreyfus, who found out, first-hand,
just what lengths Tarantino was prepared to go to in order to
get what he wants.
The actress stars as a fringe member of the assassination squad
The Bride is going after and, during one of the films bloodier
moments, loses her arm to a samurai sword, which required plenty
Far from allowing the specialists to create the desired effects,
however, she quickly found Tarantino, himself, taking over.
"We ended up doing this scene at the last minute, when production
had decided to head back to LA with all the American blood,"
she explained. "The make-up artist was spraying my face,
and trying to keep me looking beautiful, and Quentin would be
going, like, 'more'.
"So she would put a couple more droplets, and he'd go 'more',
and then finally he lost patience and picked up this great big
bottle of Chinese blood, which is very different, and poured it
on top of my head.
"At first, I couldn't see what I looked like, because I
was in the boot of a car, but when I got out, all you could see
was the white of my eyes...."
Adds Tarantino, from behind a trademark giggle: "I wasnt
asking for more bass, you know, I was asking for more blood. She
just got her arm cut off, for Christ's sake!"
Similarly, Thurman recalls how the shoot for the same sequence
had been deceptively expanded by the director.
"In normal film world language, when you look on the schedule,
or when you look at a 220-page script, and your director says
this is going to be a 90-minute film, you start to think that
this means this is going to be quick," she revealed, with
a knowing laugh.
"On the schedule, that sequence was meant to be two weeks,
so in any normal movie, if the sequence were to, say, go a third,
or 50 per cent, or double this time, it would be considered a
cataclysmic failure on the part of production, so you kind of
believe that these are rules that might apply.
"Eight weeks later, when I walked off that set, covered
in blood, with my sword and my beautiful fight scene behind me,
I fell to my knees, and felt that I had been involved in something,
and done something, that was going to break every rule of cinema."
Little wonder, then, that Tarantino deliberately chose to put
the sequence together in China, in order to be able to have the
time to do it justice.
"I wanted to shoot the Chinese way, which, as opposed to
the American way, they don't give a damn about the schedules,"
he explained. "The films there are cheap enough, and you
can just keep shooting until you get it right, as opposed to America,
where everywhere schedule is God.
"I wasn't going to settle for anything but one of the best
action scenes ever made, and that takes time. I mean, if you're
going to make a giant omelette for everyone in the room, you've
got to break some eggs."
As tough as filming with Tarantino sounds, however, the rewards
are massive - both in terms of audience enjoyment and in reviving
the careers of so many actors.
Without question, the director has a flair for the extreme, which
also wrapping everything in really dark humour. Hence, from the
opening moment of Kill Bill, which finds a bruised and battered
Thurman fighting for life, having been shot at her wedding, while
Nancy Sinatras Bang, Bang, My Baby Shot Me Down
plays in the background, audiences know that this is the blackest
of black comedies.
"I've been violent before, but I've never done it in such
an outrageous way," he agrees. "Not that I have any
problem with it when it's not outrageous, but this [Kill Bill]
is definitely taking place not on planet earth.
"It actually uses a lot of Japanese film-maker influences,
where it's a standard staple in Japanese cinema to cut somebody's
arm off and have them have water hoses for veins. So I'm keeping
that tradition alive."
So did Tarantino create a wish-list of violent deaths before
starting to film the climactic sequence, or do such excesses come
"Oh yeah, I was trying to think up every inventive, most
entertaining way, I could of dismembering and disembowelling,
or putting to an end those bastards," he adds, excitedly.
"I was out there trying to create one of the greatest, most
exciting sequences in the history of cinema, so I was definitely
"What do I want to see? What haven't I seen? It took about
a year to write that fight sequence. But one of the things I'm
most proud of about it, is the fact that the movie doesn't stop
while that scene goes on, I think there is actually storytelling
going on in the course of it."
Tarantino now heads back to LA to put the finishing touches to
Volume Two, before then turning his attentions to a World War
Two epic he has penned.
But one thing is for certain, the director has no intention of
slowing down, or reigning himself in, when it comes to dealing
with his subject matter, for when asked whether there were any
genres he wouldnt want to tackle, he replied.
"I'm not really a big fan of Victorian movies. They're not
my kind of movies. For the simple fact that movies about knuckling
under to society, or trying to fight society and being knuckled
under because of it, or those that I consider to be movies about
people who are following rules, or who are destroyed for breaking
rules, they're so polite, and I'm not really interested in that.
"I like movies about people that break rules, or movies
about mavericks, and I don't like movies about people who have
been pulverised for being a maverick."
So cinemas own maverick looks set to continue breaking
the rules for some time yet, which can only mean music to any
film buffs ears!