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Encyclopedia > Kill Bill Vol. 1

Kill Bill is the fourth feature film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino released in two parts: Volume 1 & Volume 2. Volume 1 was released in October 2003 and Volume 2 was released in April 2004. Volume 1 drew in $70 million USD in its American release while Volume 2 grossed $66 million USD.


Reviews were mostly positive, with some reviewers regarding it as a cinematic masterpiece. Other reviewers felt that Tarantino's homage to Asian cinema was overly indulgent or that it was a new low in cinematic morality. Meanwhile, some conservative critics decried its extremely graphic and exaggerated depictions of violence.

Contents

Cast

Actor Role AKA
Uma Thurman The Bride Black Mamba
David Carradine Bill Snake Charmer
Vivica A. Fox Vernita Green Copperhead
Lucy Liu O-Ren Ishii Cottonmouth
Michael Madsen Budd Sidewinder
Sonny Chiba Hattori Hanzo
Daryl Hannah Elle Driver California Mountain Snake
Chiaki Kuriyama Gogo Yubari
Julie Dreyfus Sofie Fatale
Chia Hui Liu Johnny Mo & Pai Mei
Michael Parks Esteban Vihaio
Perla Haney-Jardine B.B.
Helen Kim Karen Kim

Synopsis and story influence

Kill Bill is a story that stands alone, but it relies heavily on influences that Tarantino wished to pay tribute to. These influences being the spaghetti western, kung fu movies of the 1960s and 1970s, Chinese martial arts films, Japanese martial arts films, revenge themed movies, such as Lady Snowblood, and films like The Seven Samurai, as well as paying homage to himself. There are several references to other films either written and/or directed by Tarantino.


Some elements of the story and the character Elle Driver are inspired by the Swedish movie Thriller - en grym film.


Uma Thurman plays a character known as "The Bride" who seeks revenge against "Bill" (David Carradine) and his squad for turning her wedding rehearsal into a bloodbath and putting her into a coma for four years.

Overall story

The story is one of revenge by "The Bride" against those responsible for the massacre of her wedding rehearsal.


The entire story is divided into ten chapters, five chapters per film. As is common in Tarantino films, they are not arranged in chronological order.

In cinematic order:
  • Chapter 1: "2"
  • Chapter 2: The Blood Splattered Bride
  • Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren
  • Chapter 4: The MAN from OKINAWA
  • Chapter 5: Showdown at House of Blue Leaves
  • Chapter 6: Massacre at Two Pines
  • Chapter 7: The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz
  • Chapter 8: The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei
  • Chapter 9: Elle and I
  • Chapter 10: Face to Face
In rough chronological order:
  • Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren
  • Chapter 8: The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei
  • Chapter 6: Massacre at Two Pines
  • Chapter 2: The Blood Splattered Bride
  • Chapter 4: The MAN from OKINAWA
  • Chapter 5: Showdown at House of Blue Leaves
  • Chapter 1: "2"
  • Chapter 7: The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz
  • Chapter 9: Elle and I
  • Chapter 10: Face to Face

Volume 1

Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Director Quentin Tarantino
Producer Lawerence Bender
Writer Quentin Tarantino
Uma Thurman
Starring Uma Thurman
Distributor Miramax Films
Released October 10, 2003
Runtime 111 min.
Language English
Budget: $55 million
Tagline: Here comes the bride
IMDb Page (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0266697/)

The film begins with a dedication to Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku. A different cut of the film was released specifically for Japan, where it opened several weeks later. While the American cut of the movie shows a notably violent segment (the battle at the House of Blue Leaves) in black and white, the Japanese cut shows it in color. The film was shot over eight months, with some scenes filmed on location in Japan. (Most Japan scenes, however, were actually shot in Beijing.)


Scenes in the movie are shown heavily out of order (it starts with footage of the wedding, flashes forward to The Bride's second kill, goes back to the wedding and The Bride's recovery from her coma, etc.). This technique was already used by Tarantino in Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. The following summary is given in chronological order within the first volume.


The film also features Japanese Animation (anime) from animation studio Production I.G, which produced Ghost in the Shell.


The Bride (AKA Black Mamba, played by Uma Thurman) is a former member of "The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad". She attempts to retire, but, while visibly pregnant, is attacked during her wedding rehearsal by the group. The groom and the rest of the wedding party are murdered and The Bride is shot in the head and left for dead. Bill (David Carradine) sends Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) to finish off the comatose Bride, but subsequently decides to give her a reprieve until such day as she might wake.

Enlarge
The bride with the pussy wagon

After four years the Bride awakes, childless, to the sight of a man preparing to rape her; while she was in a coma, Buck, a hospital employee, had arranged to prostitute her body. She has a sudden memory of Buck introducing himself, saying, "my name is Buck, and I'm here to fuck." Exacting her revenge against the rapists and appropriating the late Buck's "Pussy Wagon", she begins her quest to eliminate all her former associates.


She travels first to Okinawa where she asks master swordsmith Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) for a katana with which to accomplish her revenge. Hattori Hanzo was Bill's teacher, and feeling an obligation for having trained him, he agrees to break the oath he swore to never create "something that kills people" again.

Enlarge
The Bride vs. O-Ren

Flying to Tokyo, the Bride wastes no time in locating O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), a half-Chinese, half-Japanese-American girl raised on an American military base, orphaned by the yakuza, and now ruler of the Tokyo underworld. The Bride kills or maims all but one of O-Ren's bodyguards, the Crazy 88, inside a nightclub named the "House of Blue Leaves", and pursues O-Ren outside to a snow-covered garden. Although injured in the exchange, the Bride manages to finish the duel by slicing off the top of O-Ren Ishii's head. Next, she obtains information about Bill and her other former associates by torturing Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus), one of Bill's lovers and O-Ren's lawyer.

Enlarge
The Bride vs. Vernita Green (Nikki in the background)

Making another kill list on the plane, the Bride then returns to the United States where she kills Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox).


During this first film, The Bride's real name is never heard. On a couple of occasion when characters do say the name, it is bleeped out on the soundtrack. However, The Bride's real name IS hidden within Volume One (check The Bride's boarding pass when she hops a flight to Okinawa or Tokyo).


Notable also in the film is the presence of an animated short explaining O-Ren's backstory. It is directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, and features his trademark close-ups of a character's eye.


Volume 2

Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Director Quentin Tarantino
Producer Lawerence Bender
Writer Quentin Tarantino
Uma Thurman
Starring Uma Thurman
Distributor Miramax Films
Released April 16, 2004
Runtime 136 min.
Language English
Budget: $30 million
Tagline: Klingon proverb - Revenge is a dish best served cold
IMDb Page (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0378194/)

Kill Bill Volume 2 continues the story of the Bride's quest for vengeance against the remaining members of The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and, of course, Bill. The audience learns that the Bride was not ambushed at her wedding, but at her wedding dress rehearsal. In this installment the audience also learns that the Bride's real name is Beatrix Kiddo.


After a rather unassuming introduction, we will see the lives and timely deaths of Budd, Elle, and Bill. When Bill hears of O-Ren's and Vernita Green's deaths, he knows Beatrix is going down the list, so Bill warns Budd to be careful, because she is coming. The film's ultimate and uniformly variable interpretation can be vaguely summed up in Bill's final conversation with Budd:

"... That woman deserves her revenge, and, we deserve to die..."

When Beatrix quite stealthily attempts to kill Budd (aka Sidewinder, played by Michael Madsen) at his trailer, he is ready, via Bill's warning, and fires a bag of non-lethal rock-salt into her chest immediately after the door is opened. He then phones Elle, who agrees to pay him a million dollars for Beatrix's Hattori Hanzo sword...on the condition that"she must suffer 'til her last breath." Budd then proceeds to put Beatrix in a coffin and bury her alive. At this point in the plot, we are told how Beatrix became so lethal, and who taught her these techniques.

Enlarge
Beatrix and Pai Mei

Many years before, Bill took her to Pai Mei's temple. Pai Mei, at that time, was revered as the greatest martial arts instructor that ever lived. As the story unfolds, Bill convinces Pai Mei to train her, though it appears as if a literal fight had taken place between the two men. Beatrix's training is extremely "rigorous", and she suffers unimaginable hardships in her quest.


After a nostalgic moment, Beatrix unceasingly drives a fist into her coffin, using a technique practised daily at Pai Mei's temple. She manages to break the coffin and escape from the grave. She then hikes back to Budd's trailer where, from a rock ledge, she sees Elle Driver (aka California Mountain Snake), who, along with Budd, of course, believes her to be dead, and is meeting Budd to give him a million dollars for Beatrix's Hanzo sword. Elle, however, has planted a black mamba in Budd's money, and when he opens the case containing the money, it strikes him. Elle lectures Budd as he is dying on the floor. She then retrieves the money Budd scattered while dying and busts out the door, but the Beatrix kicks her back inside.

Enlarge
Beatrix vs. Elle

In the ensuing fight between the two women, Elle is in possession of Beatrix's sword. However, by a stroke of luck, it turns out that Budd had kept his own Hanzo sword, which Beatrix now seizes. What follows is a regrettably short-lived duel between legendary Hanzo swords, that ends when Beatrix snatches out Elle's single remaining eye and leaves her blinded. Elle's ultimate fate is not known, but narrative logic suggests that she was killed by the black mamba that killed Budd (the mamba is seen striking at its barefoot namesake, Beatrix, but missing just before she leaves, reminding the audience that it is still in the trailer).


It seems disappointing that Beatrix did not actually kill Budd herself. However, considering Beatrix's codename while she worked as an assassin in D.I.V.A.S was Black Mamba, in a sense, the Black Mamba succeeded in killing Budd. (Also, if the Bride had not come after Budd in the first place, he would not be dead at all).


The story then proceeds to Mexico and Esteban, a pimp who raised Bill and was a friend of his mother. Beatrix asks him, in a very respectful manner, where Bill is. It is said that the reason Esteban helps Beatrix is "Because Bill would want me to."


After a short drive to Bill's home, she is astonished as she comes through the door in a fashion reminicsent to James Bond films, to find Bill, lying on the floor, with B.B. (their four-year-old daughter) standing over him with a plastic gun. She thought her baby had been murdered during her wedding rehearsal, and up to this point, had no knowledge of her existence. After spending some time with her daughter, Beatrix returns to her original mission, though slighty less violently. During the discussion between Bill and Beatrix, Bill shoots Beatrix with a dart containing truth serum, and as a result she tells him about why she tried to retire. At this point, Bill makes a comparison between Beatrix and Clark Kent (Superman), referring to her attempts to be a normal citizen and saying that in reality, she was trying to hide her true identity.

Enlarge
Beatrix vs. Bill

In their final encounter, the unfinished business is finally settled as Bill accepts his fate, though not formally announced, and Beatrix ultimately kills him, not with any weapon, but using The Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, taught to her by Pai Mei, unknown to Bill, before Pai Mei's death. This technique can be described as five blows to pressure points on the body, most notably the chest, and, as the victim walks away supposedly unscathed, his fifth step is his last as his heart explodes inside his chest.

Enlarge
Beatrix and B.B.

This moment is very emotional, in that Bill could probably kill Beatrix easily despite him being drunk, but lets karma do its job in the end. She then takes B.B. and drives to a motel of some sort, where the film ends in a hug between Beatrix and B.B.


Samuel L. Jackson has a cameo role in the movie as Rufus, an organist in the El Paso Chapel.


During Bill's interrogation of Beatrix, he says that she is a "natural born killer", a reference to the movie Natural Born Killers, for which Tarantino also wrote the initial screenplay.


DVD Release

In America Kill Bill Volume 1 was released on DVD on April 13, 2004 while Volume 2 was released August 10, 2004.


Before the release of Volume 1 Rick Sands, chief operating officer at Miramax, commented on future multiple releases of the Kill Bill DVDs: "This is the beauty of having two volumes — Vol. 1 goes out, Vol. 2 goes out, then Vol. 1 Special Edition, Vol. 2 Special Edition, the two-pack, then the Tarantino collection as a boxed set out for Christmas. It's called multiple bites at the apple. And you multiply this internationally."


These comments came under heavy criticism from the online DVD community.


Fans have however speculated that there will be a "Special Edition" at some point, due to the fairly sparse extra features on the original releases.


Planned sequel

Tarantino told Entertainment Weekly in April 2004 that he is planning a sequel:

Oh yeah, initially I was thinking this would be my Dollars trilogy. I was going to do a new one every ten years. But I need at least fifteen years before I do this again.
I've already got the whole mythology: Sofie Fatale will get all of Bill's money. She'll raise Nikki, who'll take on The Bride. Nikki deserves her revenge every bit as much as The Bride deserved hers. I might even shoot a couple of scenes for it now so I can get the actresses while they're this age.

Soundtracks

Soundtrack albums have been released for each part.


Volume 1 soundtrack

The Soundtrack for Volume 1 reached number 45 on the Billboard 200 album charts and number one on the soundtracks in August 2003.


The track listing for the soundtrack is:

  1. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) by Nancy Sinatra
  2. That Certain Female by Charlie Feathers
  3. That Grand Finale (Parte Prima) by Luis Bacalov
  4. Twisted Nerve by Bernard Hermann
  5. Queen of the Crime Council by Lucy Liu and Julie Dreyfus
  6. Ode to Oren Ishii by The RZA
  7. Green Hornet Theme by Al Hirt
  8. Battle Without Honor or Humanity by Hotei Tomoyasu
  9. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood by Santa Esmeralda
  10. Woo Hoo by The 5,6,7,8's
  11. Crane/White Lightning by RZA and Charles Bernstein
  12. The Flower Of Carnage by Meiko Kaji
  13. The Lonely Shepherd by Gheorghe Zamfir
  14. You're My Wicked Life by David Carradine, Julie Dreyfus and Uma Thurman
  15. Ironside (excerpt) by Quincy Jones
  16. Super 16 (excerpt) by NEU!
  17. Yakuza Oren 1 by The RZA
  18. Banister Fight by The RZA

Volume 2 soundtrack

The Soundtrack for Kill Bill 2 reached number 58 on the Billboard 200 and has reached the ARIA Top 50 album charts in Australia. It has also reached number two on the Billboard soundtracks charts in the US.


Track listing:

  1. A Few Words From The Bride by Uma Thurman
  2. Goodnight Moon by Shivaree
  3. Il Tramonto by Ennio Morricone
  4. Can't Hardly Stand It by Charlie Feathers
  5. Tu Mira (edit) by Lole/Manuel
  6. Summertime Killer by Luis Bacalov
  7. The Chase by Alan Reeves/ Phil Carradine/ Philip Brigham
  8. The Legend of Pai Mei by David Carradine and Uma Thurman
  9. L'Arena by Ennio Morricone
  10. A Satisfied Mind by Johnny Cash
  11. A Silhouette of Doom by Ennio Morricone
  12. About Her by Malcolm McLaren
  13. Truly and Utterly Bill by David Carradine and Uma Thurman
  14. Malagueña Salerosa by Chingon
  15. Urami Bushi by Meiko Kaji

Influence of other films

It has been observed that Quentin Tarantino gathers inspiration for his filmmaking from various sources. Some examples of this in Kill Bill:

  • Yellow jumpsuit, from Bruce Lee's Game of Death
  • Scene of the Bride standing in the middle of 50+ people still winning the fight is similiar to the chambara scenes of countless old Japanese samurai movies
  • One of the biggest references lists online is located at http://www.tarantino.info/store/index.php?id=kbguide

External links

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about:

  Results from FactBites:
 
Film Reviews | Kill Bill Vol. 1 (1289 words)
Tarantino cites the film in Kill Bill’s notes, and also mentions the movie’s director, Liu Chialiang, the actor’s brother.
Kill Bill’s biggest action set piece occurs in a Tokyo restaurant when The Bride takes on a seemingly endless torrent of Yakuza fighters, killing, or permanently disabling every single one of them.
But that’s all it is. Kill Bill V. 1 is a distressingly sloppy and boring movie that has nothing to establish beyond its makers buff bona fides.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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