Ten years ago this week we got the second installment of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill saga. While the original vision was one four-hour epic, Tarantino broke the 220-page script into two separate movies after pressure from the studio — as well as his own realization that four hours is a little lengthy for a revenge flick.
Whether or not we ever get the rumored third installment of the film is something we’ll just have to wait for. (Though I do think it’d be a fun project for Tarantino now that his Hateful Eight script has been spoiled.) In the meantime, there’s some juicy trivia to soak up from the first two kung fu bloodbaths.
1. The Bride really knows how to time her battles. In Vol. 1, when O-Ren threatens the Bride with “I hope you saved your energy. If you haven’t you may not last five minutes,” the Bride takes exactly 4 minutes and 59 seconds from the music cue to slice O-Ren’s scalp off.
2. The character Pai Mei is based on Bak Mei, an actual kung fu master. Bak Mei is known for developing the “white eyebrow” kung fu technique and is known in Chinese folklore as a rather villainous character for having sold out other kung fu masters to save himself during an attack on Buddhist temples. Eventually, Bak Mei was murdered with some believing him to have been poisoned just as Elle Driver poisoned Pai Mei.
3. Talk about doing Kill Bill started during Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino came up with the idea of doing Kill Bill while talking with Uma Thurman on the set of Pulp Fiction. The two were discussing the types of movies they liked and he expressed his interest in ’70s kung fu movies. They then started hashing out what would become the opening scene of the beaten Bride in her wedding gown.
4. Bill offers up a nod to the Wu Tang Clan in Vol. 2. After injecting the Bride with a truth serum, Bill interrogates her and refers to her as “a natural born killer” and “renegade killer bee.” Both of these are of course references to projects from the Wu Tang Clan and RZA, who wrote original music for both films.
5. Not that many f*cks to give. Vol. 1 was Tarantino’s first movie to feature less than 100 uses of the word f*ck, only clocking in 17 uses.
6. Elle Driver was the only member whose snake nickname wasn’t venomous. Out of the five members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Elle Driver’s California Mountain Kingsnake is the only one that isn’t venomous. Incidentally, this is why Elle makes a failed attempt at killing the bride when she tries to poison her IV in the hospital.
7. Even Bill’s car is a symbol of his status as leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. While the assassins have snake nicknames, Bill is known as the Snake Charmer and drives the Italian sports car De Tomaso Mangusta, which can be seen behind him when he goes to visit Budd at his trailer. Mangusta is Italian for “mongoose” a mammal known for its speed in killing venomous snakes.
8. Quentin Tarantino loans out the Pussy Wagon. Tarantino has the wagon parked in his driveway and regularly drove it during the film’s release as a bit of shameless self-promotion, and has loaned it out on several occasions for video shoots. It makes an appearance in both Missy Elliot’s video for “I’m Really Hot” and Lady Gaga’s video for “Telephone.”
9. The films’ kill ratios were pretty unbalanced. Naturally, Vol. 1 has a lot more deaths than Vol. 2 with the battle between the Crazy 88s, but the the numbers are still pretty skewed. In the first film we see the deaths of 41 people, in the second only three — Budd, Bill and Pai Mei. (We never actually witness Elle die.) And excluding the animation sequence, every person killed is done so by a female character.
10. The Bride’s FU shoe. As the Bride enters the House of Blue Leaves in Vol. 1 for battle we get a shot taken from below the glass floor. If you look quickly you’ll notice that the bottom of her shoe reads “F*ck U” proving that everything about the girl is bad-ass.
11. Jackass: The Movie had an influence on Vol. 2. Tarantino’s original script called for a much more graceful fight between Elle and the Bride, similar to her battle with O-Ren Ishii. Tarantino decided to make it much more chaotic after watching Jackass: The Movie at Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse.
12. Black Dynamite was cut from Vol. 2. Okay, so Michael Jai White’s character of Black Dynamite isn’t actually in the movie, but White did film a lengthy battle sequence with Carradine that ended up on the cutting room floor because of pacing (and it wasn’t integral to the story).
13. Butch’s white Honda Civic from Pulp Fiction shows up in Vol. 2. Even after ramming into Marsellus Wallace, Butch’s white Civic keeps on truckin’, appearing in Jackie Brown and showing up in the parking lot of the My Oh My Strip Club in Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
14. 450 gallons of blood were spilled. According to makeup effects artist Christopher Allen Nelson, over 450 gallons of fake blood were used over the course of filming both movies.
15. Tarantino slips in a home state reference. Just like all of his previous films, Tarantino found a way to give a nod to his home state of Tennessee in Vol. 2. The can that Budd uses as a spittoon is labeled Oak Ridge Coffee. Oak Ridge is a town just outside of Knoxville, TN where Tarantino was born.
16. Vol. 1’s animated assassination sequence was inspired by a Bollywood film. Tarantino has been pretty open about the influence he draws from other filmmakers and told Indian director Anurag Kashyap that Vol. 1’s animation sequence was largley inspired by the animated murder scene from the 2001 film, Aalavandhan. (Skip to 4:40 for the animated violence to kick in.)
17. Many Bills were considered before going with David Carradine. Kevin Costner was considered for the part, but was busy with Open Range. Jack Nicholson, Kurt Russell, Mickey Rourke, and Burt Reynolds were also on the table as well. Tarantino was ready to sign Warren Beatty, but had second thoughts about the actor when, according to Michael Madsen, Beatty expressed that he “didn’t get what the story was about” to Tarantino.
18. Elle Driver’s freakout was partially improvised by Daryl Hannah. When the Bride plucks out Elle’s eye in Budd’s trailer, Elle goes absolutely berserk. Tarantino’s script only called for screaming, but Hannah decided to crank it up to 11 and run into the trailer’s walls because she thought it would make Tarantino laugh. It did and he enjoyed it so much that he kept the take.
19. When Tarantino wants to film a brothel scene he uses real prostitutes. The brothel scene where the Bride visits with Esteban Vihaio was the last scene of Vol. 2 to be filmed. Filming took place at an actual brothel in Mexico and the prostitutes lingering in the background weren’t extras, but actual prostitutes who worked at the brothel.
20. If there ever is a Kill Bill: Vol. 3, Uma Thurman won’t be the star. Who knows if we’ll ever get a Vol. 3 — it’s been 10 years — but Tarantino has said in an interview with EW that he would need at least a decade to pass before ever doing a third film. He’s also said that if there ever is one, Uma will be in it, but not be the main star:
“The star will be Vernita Green’s [Vivica A. Fox’s] daughter, Nikki [Ambrosia Kelley]. And I know everything that will take her up to this time. Sofie Fatale [Julie Dreyfus] will get all of Bill’s money, and she will raise Nikki, and she will go to take on the Bride. Nikki deserves her revenge every bit as much as the Bride deserved hers. I might even, a year from now, shoot a couple of scenes for it and put it in the vault for 15 years from now so I can get the actresses while they’re this age.”