A/V Room









Kill Bill: Volume One - The geek's survival guide

Feature by: Jack Foley

PART of the fun of watching Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill is picking out the references, or actors, you have seen from other movies.

In typical QT fashion, the references are expertly observed, without ever feeling as though they might get in the way of the story.

Here are some of the more obvious ‘quick facts’ - feel free to let us know of any more that you notice!

l Quentin Tarantino describes Kill Bill as ‘a duck press’ of all the grindhouse cinema he’s absorbed over the past 35 years.

l In the climactic House of Blue Leaves sequence, the samurai fighters in clashing Bruce Lee outfits square off over a glass nightclub floor (shot from below) that would not look out of place in Seijun Suzuki’s hip gangster drama, Tokyo Drifter (1966).

l Previous nods to the kung fu explosion of the Seventies have appeared in other Tarantino movies. For instance, True Romance contains echoes of Sonny Chiba’s ultra-violent Streetfighter movies (as well as clips), while Reservoir Dogs contains a nod to Hong Kong action movie, City of Fire.

l For Kill Bill, Tarantino cast Sonny Chiba as a renowned samurai sword master and revived the character, Hattori Hanzo, from the series Shadow Warriors. However, Hanzo’s habit of pausing to recite passages of scripture when he was about to kill had already been handed down to the philosophical killer played by Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

l Tarantino cast Chinese martial artist/actor Gordon Liu Chia-hui as both Johnny Mo, a leather-clad leader of the Crazy 88’s bodyguard squad in Tokyo, and as Pei Mei, a popular ‘white eyebrow monk’ character from several vintage Shaw Brothers films. In this case, he was casting against type: Liu always played stalwart (or occasionally comic) heroes in his Shaw films, while Pei Mei (often portrayed by actor, Lo Lieh) was one of the studio’s darkest villains, betraying his musical brothers to the Manchu tyrants in pictures like Liu Jia-liang’s Executioners From Shaolin (1977).

l Of Kill Bill, Tarantino states: "I have said many times that there are two different worlds that my movies take place in. One of them is the ‘Quentin Universe’ of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, which is heightened but more or less realistic. The other is the Movie World. When characters in the Quentin Universe go to the movies, the stuff they see takes place in the Movie World. They are a window onto that world. Kill Bill is the first film I’ve made that takes place in the Movie World. This is me imagining what would happen if that world really existed, and I could take a film crew in there and make a Quentin Tarantino movie about those characters."

l Tarantino’s view of the Tokyo underworld would not be complete without Go Go Yubari, the fetching and ferocious teenage bodyguard to O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu). Tarantino had written the role for the actress, Chiaki Kuriyama, after seeing her in the cult classic action film, Battle Royale, the final film directed by the late Kinji Fukasaku.

l Go Go’s weapon during her battle with The Bride resembles both the lethal yo-yos wielded by the schoolgirl super-heroines on the long-running Japanese TV series, Sukeban Deka, and also the title tool in one of Tarantino’s all-time favourite martial arts movies, Master of the Flying Guillotine (1976).

l For the male bosses who inhabit the Tokyo underworld, Tarantino hand-picked some of his favourite Japanese actors, including Jun Kunimura (from Takeshi Miike’s Audition and Ichii: The Killer) as the headstrong Boss Tanaka, and Kazuki Kitamura as Boss Koji.

l The anime sequence was sub-contracted to one of Japan’s leading animation studios, Production IG, which has been associated with some of the most original and intellectually challenging anime of the past decade, including Mamoru Oshii’s Ghost in the Shell (1995) and Hiroyuki Okiura’s Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (1999) and Blood: The Last Vampire (2000).

l The costumes worn by the Crazy 88s in the House of Blue Leaves are a twist on the white shirt, black ties and black suits that Tarantino made famous in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. In Kill Bill, a small black mask is added to the ensemble, in homage to the outfit worn by Bruce Lee’s character, Cato, on The Green Hornet.

l Uma Thurman’s yellow jumpsuit, in the same sequence, is an exact copy of the tracksuit worn by Lee in Game of Death, the film he left unfinished at his death in 1973.

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