Kill Bill: Volume 2 may have been a bit of a disappointment admittedly (check out our review here), but there's no denying Kill Bill volume 1 is absolutely littered with cool movie references. But can you name them all? We don't think we've found the complete set, not by a long shot, but we think we've found enough to put together in a special Eatmybrains feature. We also thought we'd throw in some random behind-the-scenes info, just for good measure.
1 - All right it's obvious, but we had to point it out anyway. Uma's yellow tracksuit with the black stripes that she wears in 'The House of Blue Leaves' sequence is a direct homage to Bruce Lee's incomplete opus, Game of Death. In the middle of the original production back in the early seventies, Bruce got the offer from Warner Bros to make Enter the Dragon and get his first world-wide, English language distribution. Enter the Dragon made him an instant superstar, but sadly Bruce died in mysterious circumstances before the film's release. The recently recovered footage - sorry, amazing footage - that Bruce Lee shot for Game of Death can be purchased from the Hong Kong classics label here.
2 - That's not the only reference to our man Bruce either. The black masks worn by 'The Crazy 88' are a direct homage to his character Kato in the 60s TV show The Green Hornet, as is the way the gang members prefer to leap over banisters rather than actually walk down the stars; Mr Lee's signature move on the show.
3 - Listen out for the music which accompanies the Bride's arrival in Tokyo as it's the original Green Hornet theme tune.
4 - Watch in the 'House of Blue Leaves' sequence for when the Bride circles through the gang slicing at their shins. That manoeuvre is a nod to Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury, although in that version Bruce used a nunchuka to a slightly less gory effect.
5 - Elle Driver, played expertly by Daryl Hannah, gets her name from an assistant on Pulp Fiction named Sarah L Kelly. Sarah spent so much time behind the wheel driving the actors around that she acquired the nickname 'El Driver', which I guess Quentin must have liked.
6 - The character of Elle Driver is based on one played by Christina Lindberg in the Swedish revenge flick They Call Her One Eye, an everyday tale of a disfigured prostitute's drive to bring bloody justice to her assailants.
7 - The tune Elle whistles in the hospital hallway is the same as one whistled by the lead in the little known 60s thriller Twisted Nerve.
8 - Gordon Liu plays two parts in Kill Bill, one in each volume. In Vol. 1 he plays Johnny Mo, leader of the crazy 88s. In Vol. 2 he plays Pai Mei, the ancient shaolin monk.
9 - Originally the role of Pai Mei was to be played by Kill Bill's master choreographer, Yuen Woo-Ping, but he opted out after deciding that acting the part would get in the way of his fight co-ordinating duties. Tarantino himself considered stepping in to play the role, before realizing that perhaps that wasn't such a good idea and offered the part to Liu.
10 - In Vol. 1, two redneck cops discuss the massacre at the chapel whilst driving along a desert road. Notice the many pairs of different coloured sunglasses strewn along the dashboard. This whole sequence is almost an exact copy of the opening to H.B. Halicki's 1974 car-chase classic Gone in 60 seconds.
11 - Go Go Yubari is played wonderfully by Chiaki Kuriyama, who you may instantly recognise. She played almost the exact same character in Battle Royale, right down to the Japanese schoolgirl uniform. Ouch.
12 - The ball and chain weapon she uses against The Bride is based on the metal yo-yos wielded by the girl agents in 80s TV series Sukeban Deka, although the fighting style she uses with the weapon can be traced back to Jimmy Wang Yu's classic Master of the Flying Guillotine, also known on UK video as One Armed Boxer II (and it's possibly my favourite cheesy martial arts movie ever).
13 - Wang Yu is actually referenced several times in the long House of Blue Leaves sequence; for the flying guillotine and for his seminal late 60s hit The Chinese Boxer, which became synonymous with the one-guy-takes-on-thousands martial arts cliché.
14 - While we're back at the 'House of Blue Leaves' sequence, we've got to mention the influence of Kenji Misumi's infamous Baby Cart series, the first two episodes of which were edited together and released as Shogun Assassin on the Vipco label. That movie is probably the most notorious samurai movie in the west mainly because of the outrageous number of over-the-top gory dismemberments it contains; enough to earn it a place on the 1984 'banned' video nasties list.
15 - Talking of samurai movies, it's quite obvious that O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu's Yakuza gang leading female samurai) is heavily indebted to Meiko Kaji's lead character in the 1973 opus Lady Snowblood, for both her look and fighting style.
16 - Japanese film legend Sonny Chiba plays master swordsmith and sushi bar owner Hattori Hanzo in Kill Bill, but it's not the first time he's played that part. Throughout the 80s, Chiba starred in the hit Japanese TV show Kage No Gundam (broadcast as Shadow Warriors in the US). In the show and it's many sequels Chiba always played a character called Hattori Hanzo, although since each set of episodes was set decades after the last, Chiba never played the same Hanzo in any two series. In fact, he always portrayed a direct descendant of the previous Hanzo, and as such the Kill Bill Hanzo is simply a continuation of that idea.
17 - The line, 'If, on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut,' which Chiba says to Thurman when he gives her the sword, is lifted straight from Makai Tensho, a bizarre 1981 samurai movie by Kinji Fukusaku also starring Sonny Chiba as well. In the US the film was released on video as Samurai Reincarnation, but didn't do very well commercially as it portrayed the Christian invaders as evil; not something that would be popular with the 80s American market.
18 - And last but not least, in Vol. 2 Bill plays a wooden flute which resembles the same instrument David Carradine plays as Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu. You didn't honestly think that Tarantino would forgot the show that made Carradine a household name, did you?
There are many different versions of Kill Bill on it's way to DVD. Watch this space, but we don't recommend you rush out and by the Volume 1 edition just yet...
By the way, if you've spotted any references we've missed, feel free to get in touch and put us straight.