Spoiler Warning

Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kill Bill (Volumes 1 and 2)

What About It?
(for a full summary of Kill Bill 1 and 2, scroll down to "What Happens?"
Be sure to check out The Smoking Pen for more posts on "Kill Bill" as part of M's Tarantino Blogathon
And, as always, check out the Criminal Movies Facebook Page for trailers, clips and tunes from the film.)

Kill Bill is not a complicated movie in terms of plot. Once you know it's a revenge story you know a lot about what to expect. The real enjoyment of Kill Bill is the overwhelming sense, that Tarantino has seen an awful lot of revenge movies, grind house movies, and 1970's martial arts movies, (which have many times been the same movies,)and here was given a chance to make the film the way he'd always wanted to see it. Kill Bill is a film that feels like pure, excited indulgence. It's easy to picture Tarantino and Uma Thurman talking about the story of "The Bride" that late become this film.  Rather than try to surprise the audience with a baffling plot, it delights in its own storytelling and brags about the impossible happening, only to top it with something more impossible in the next scene. We start with a woman that's been shot in the head by a master assassin. By all rights, that should be the end of the show. But Kill Bill is a list of "impossible things that could never happen." and it doesn't mind that one bit.

It reminds of the absurd stories that kids tell each other only for fun, being constantly added to with any objection. One kid might say, so the bride gets shot in the head and barely survives in a coma for four years. She wakes up and swears revenge. A second kid would interject, "But if she's been in a coma for four years, she wouldn't be able to walk." The first kid, rather than take back the beginning, amends it, says oh yeah, right, she escapes the hospital in a wheelchair and then by focusing on getting her big toe to move, she gets her legs working through pure training and will power.The second kid can only respond with, "Oh, yeah, ok, so then what happens?" The first kid might then continue, Well, then she decides to go after the people that tried to kill her, the five most deadly killers in the world. Both the kid telling the story and the one listening are hooked and the absurdity of the story, is part of the fun of telling it. It doesn't matter what could really happen, only what they want to see happen.

I've seen the idea presented that Kill Bill is part of the cinematic universe that the characters in Tarantino's main universe watch at the theatre, and I'm very fond of that idea. There is certainly a similarity between the "Deadly Viper Assassination Squad" and "Fox Force Five" the television pilot that Mia Wallace, Uma Thurman's role in "Pulp Fiction," had been a part of. Whether or not that's true, it certainly enjoys being in the film universe, and Tarantino's nods to film styles and other films only add to the enjoyment. Obviously great pains were taken to give this film the feel of a 70's martial arts film. It's certainly no accident that The Bride's yellow jumpsuit is identical to the one Bruce Lee wore. The impossible battles the bride overcomes would certainly fit well in a Bruce Lee film, or for that matter, any number of Martial Arts movies. The Invincible Martial arts teacher Pai Mei, is a staple from classic martial arts films, including those of the Shaw Brothers like "Executioners from Shaolin" It's not accidental that Tarantino shot part of the film at the same Shaw Brothers Studio in Hong Kong. The impossible feats such as Pai Mei standing on the blade of a sword are plentiful in 70's martial arts films. Tarantino didn't invent that, but he clearly enjoyed it and fully embraced the sensibility and runs with it here. He even treats the gore in traditional 70's martial arts fashion, severed limbs cause fountains of blood. Rather than go for realism he sticks with the form.

There is also the important inclusion of Sonny Chiba, who was huge in 1970's martial arts films (particularly The Street Fighter, which is mentioned and watched by Clarence in True Romance, another film Tarantino wrote.) Other touches, such as Elle Driver whistling "Twisted Nerve" a song from the 1968 Thriller of the same name about a deranged killer, changes her walk down a hospital hallway from harmless to threatening instantly. Beyond that many of his shots reference films from many genres. The Brides burial is nearly identical to a sequence in a "Django Film" Many of the Desert shots are patterned on "Once Upon a Time in the West" You could spend days comparing shots in Kill Bill to those in other films. Tarantino of course, makes no secret of being inspired by them, but he manages to make the shots his own, with the added benefit of bringing in associations from the other films, which gives the characters and the story a complexity that simply wouldn't be possible otherwise. Detractors may call it stealing shots, but in my mind, Tarantino loves paying in the same sandbox, where the toys were left by filmmakers that moved him. I haven't heard him bragging about "inventing" shots, so much as he brags about telling a thrilling and stylish story. I can easily imagine him watching a film and thinking, "Wow, that's a great shot." and then basing his own shot on it later, knowing how effective it will be for his purpose.  This is a man who insists on shooting at the Shaw Brothers Studio, because the martial arts films he loved were shot there. There's no attempt to hide influence, rather the reverse. Of course, for Tarantino, every film technique is fair game. He doesn't hesitate to go from black and white to color, or to tell one chapter with animation. He has no problem letting the Bride directly address the audience either, but he fits everything together and makes it work.

Of course the selection of actors in "Kill Bill" is also notable. David Carradine, our main villain is best known for the "Master of Kung Fu" TV series, which many of us grew up with. While we know that Bill is a completely different character, knowledge of the previous role makes it easier for us to believe how deadly he is. This is probably my favorite role that Carradine's ever done. Bill is an enjoyable villain in that he's completely evil and dishonest, but not reliably so. With a straight face, he can tell The Bride that the chapel massacre was him "overreacting."  Yet for all his evil, he seems genuinely pleased to discover that the Bride knew the "Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique." and knowing he's about to die, he can't help but tell her that she's his favorite person in the world. The fact that he's evil doesn't keep him from having some good points either, when he accuses The Bride of playing Clark Kent, she has to admit that he's right. While his screen time is less than most here, his presence saturates the film.

Michael Madsen's role is certainly enhanced by his role in another Tarantino film, "Reservoir Dogs." It seems that Tarantino knows how to play to Madsen's strengths. Here he's certainly a different character than Vic Vega, but we know that there's a lot of danger beneath the surface. The tension this creates in scenes such as  his boss at the strip club childishly berating him, is terrific. Of all the Deadly Vipers, Budd is the most resigned to his fate, yet he isn't going to go quietly. It's strangely thrilling moment when he bests the Bride as we realize he hasn't quite given up his spirit.  Of course we're just as happy when she escapes, and infuriated when Elle Driver betrays him. We learn that he didn't pawn the sword Bill gave him at all, only wanted to think so. And of course when he buries the Bride, he tells her "This is for breaking my brother's heart." It's a surprising amount of range for a relatively small scene. Of all of the characters except the Bride, Budd gets the closest to a full journey.

Lucy Liu is fantastic as O-Ren Ishii.  The Bride's battle with O'Ren and her henchmen/women is certainly the most steeped in martial art films and comes across as almost a film in itself. Her scene decapitating the man questioning her heritage, tells us what to expect from her. While their final showdown comes across as a bit short, the entire sequence is enough to anchor the first film. O'Ren's true threat is her treachery and ruthlessness and her minions are a direct extension of that. That said O'Ren could never stop the Bride because as Budd points out  "People got a job to do, they tend to live a little bit longer so they can do it. I've always figured that warriors and their enemies share the same relationship." As we know from the tradition of revenge movies, The Bride will live until she gets to Bill. The O'Ren scenes establish this and the fact that the Bride is not concerned about the impossible feats.

Vivica Fox is great as Vernita Green. She's out of the life now, but unlike Budd, she isn't resigned to anything. She has a daughter now and a new life, but she hasn't paid for her old one, and doesn't seem at all concerned about it. Her attempts to use her daughter as a tool to get the upper hand show us what we need to know about her character. Certainly their fight destroying everything in her quiet Pasadena home provides an interesting contrast. And of course this sets up the implication that the Bride herself is not unaware of consequences, as she tells Vernita's girl "I'll be waiting." as if we're watching the beginning of another film.

Daryl Hannah is a standout here and a treat to watch. Her Elle Driver is the most twisted of them all. She has seemingly tried to occupy the Bride's place in her absence, hardly changing her role at all in four years. We see the similarity and differences in the training from Pai Mei, the Bride gaining valuable training, while Elle has her eye plucked out. While everyone else seems to have other goals, Elle revels in the killing for it's own sake. She has little reason to kill Budd, except for the fact that he supposedly killed the Bride, which she wanted to do, and of course the ability for her to take credit for Budd's deeds. Elle is a fun house mirror image of what the Bride could've been.

Uma Thurman carries the lead role exceptionally well. While the Bride is certainly not one that the Academy would think about at Oscar time, she manages to handle the absurdity and impossibility of her character with gravity and a straight face. Although some of the feats are so improbable that they become comic, because of Thurman's commitment to the part, we simply accept the story and cheer her on. She comes across her as a convincing action hero without a doubt. Tarantino's decision to use an almost all female cast is an interesting one and proves that action movies don't have to be just for the guys.

The supporting cast is always a big part of Tarantino films and "Kill Bill" is no exception. Sonny Chiba as the legendary Hanzo Hattori gives us both comic relief in his sushi chef guise, and respect as the ultimate sword maker. Michael Parks in dual roles as Sheriff Earl Parks and Esteban Vihaio gives us two enjoyable sequences. Chia Hui Liu also has two roles as Pai Mei and Johnny Mo, Pai Mei certainly being the most notable. His sequence gives us a strong and affectionate connection to the 70's films.

"Kill Bill" doesn't aim to reinvent the wheel, simply to construct Tarantino's version of what a wheel should be. In this case it's a story, a great big story that we only need to believe while watching it, and we do because it's so exciting to see the Bride settle the score,and we like all good stories, we just need to know what happens next. Tarantino's love of grindhouse cinema has never been a secret and he certainly gave nods to it in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, and headed a little further in that direction with "Jackie Brown" but here he dives completely in, playing with every toy in the film sandbox. It feels very much like a celebration of all the films that inspired him, but also stands on its own just fine. He must have had fun, since his next film was "Death Proof" billed as a true Grindhouse throwback. Kill Bill is such a departure from his previous films that I have difficulty even comparing them. It's a fantastic entry into the grindhouse martial arts revenge film tradition.

What Happens?

We're told that the  "Revenge is a dish best served cold." (Old Klingon Proverb) We then see in Black and White, a bloody and badly wounded Bride (Uma Thurman) sobbing on the floor of a church. We hear Bill's cowboy boots approach on the hard wood floor, before he (David Carradine) leans down and explains while wiping her face with his personally monogrammed handkerchief, that "There's nothing sadistic about his actions." but rather "This is me at my most masochistic." The suffering bride tells Bill that she's carrying his baby. We hear a gunshot, the sound of Bill shooting her in the head, and the credits begin. We're then introduced to the five names of the actor playing the "Deadly Viper Assassination Squad" In order then continue the credits as as we watch the Bride lying still on the floor.

1. Lucy Liu as O'Ren Ishii
2.Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green
3. Michael Madsen as Bud
4. Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver
5. David Carradine as Bill

Chapter 1
The Bride drives a pick  up truck to a nice house in a quiet upscale neighborhood and rings the doorbell. While waiting, she remembers another scene from her wedding, and one of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) attacking her. The moment the door opens she punches Vernita in the face. The two of them fight, going from fists to knives pretty quickly. They pause their fight however, when Vernita's young daughter, Nikki gets home from school.  Although Nikki notices the place is trashed, Vernita blames the dog for the mess. The two women insist that everything is OK. The Bride asks Nikki how old she is, and mentions that her little girl would be about her age now.
We learn that Vernita and The Bride were both members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Vernita is "Copperhead" and the Bride was "Black Mamba." The Bride says she won't kill Vernita in front of her child and they plan to meet later to finish the fight. However, Vernita attempts to shoot the Bride with a hidden gun, and the Bride responds by killing her with a throwing knife as Nikki walks back into the room. The Bride tells her to come find her when she grows up if she "It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that, I'm sorry, but you can take my word for it, your mother had it coming." She tells Nikki if she can't get over it "I'll be waiting."  The Bride leaves in her pick up which we see is labelled "Pussy Wagon" She crosses Vernita's name off the number 2 spot on her  "Death List Five" We see that O'Ren Ishii is already crossed off.

Chapter 2, THe Blood Spattered Bride
We move back to four years earlier, in El Paso TX, the cops are investigating the mass murder of everyone in the Church for the Bride's wedding.  The Sheriff (Michael Parks) learns that there were nine bodies, "including the organ player." He remarks "Maybe somebody objected to this union and wasn't able to hold their peace." He looks around the scene and quickly spots the massacre as the work of professionals, He stops at the bloodied Bride, and calls her a "good lookin' gal."  He takes a closer look at the Bride when she unconsciously spits in his face. She's moved to the hospital, where she lies in a deep coma.

A blonde woman dressed in white, with an eye patch walks through the hospital, whistling. She changes into a nurses outfit and readies a syringe. We're told that she's  Elle Driver: aka California Mountain Snake. She visits the Bride's room and tells her that "because I despise you doesn't mean I don't respect you." and tells her she's going to die in her sleep. Just before she administers the syringe, Bill calls on her cell phone and tells her to abort the mission as "We owe her better than that." Elle is furious and tells Bill "You don't owe her shit!" Bill insists and she angrily complies and leaves. Bill tells Elle "I love you very much." Before leaving, she tells the Bride "Word of advice, shithead, don't you ever wake up."

Four years later, the Bride is still comatose. However, a mosquito bites her and she's startled awake. She remembers the moment of Bill firing the last shot and the bullet approaching. She realizes quickly that her baby is gone and starts sobbing. When hospital staff walks by, she resumes acting as if she's still unconscious. An orderly, Buck, (Michael Bowen) enters with another man The orderly explains that, "the price is $75 a fuck my friend." and insists that there is no punching or leaving marks. He gets on top of her and starts kissing her when she bites off his lip, getting covered in his blood. She starts to leave but realizes that she can't walk as her legs are too weak. The orderly returns and she ambushes him from the floor and demands "Where's Bill!?" She recalls Buck abusing her, and kills him. She then steals his keychain which has a tag that says "Pussy Wagon." She remarks "Pussy Wagon? Fucker." She makes her way to the parking garage via wheelchair and finds Buck's truck easily as it's marked "Pussy Wagon" very clearly. SHe gets in the truck and starts looking at her legs and focusing on wiggling her Big toe over and over again. She thinks "As I lay in the back of Buck's truck, trying to will my limbs out of entropy, I could see the faces of the cunts that did this to me and the dicks responsible. Members all of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other, that not only does God exist, you're doing His will.She recalls the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, specifically mentioning her first target O-Ren Ishii, now the head of the Tokyo Underworld, code name: CottonMouth

Chapter 3, The Origins of O-Ren
We hear the Bride narrate, "O-Ren lshii was born on an American military base in Tokyo, Japan. The half-Japanese half Chinese-American army brat made her first acquaintance with death at the age of l0, It was at that age she witnessed the death of her parents at the hands of Japan's most ruthless yakuza boss, Boss Matsumoto." We see an animated sequence where O'Ren's parents were killed. She takes advantage of Matsumoto being a pedophile to get him alone and kills him, then his men. The Bride tells us that by age twenty she was one of the deadliest assassins in the world, and that at age twenty five she "did her part in the killing of nine innocent people, including my unborn daughter, in a small wedding chapel in El Paso, TX. But on that day, four years ago, she made one big mistake. She should have killed ten." We see the Bride still trying to wiggle her big toe. She does it, and says "Hard part's over." 13 hours later she gets out of the back and walks to the front door of the truck and drives off. She buys a plane ticket to Okinawa.

Chapter 4, The Man from Okinawa
The Bride enters a Sushi bar in Okinawa and talks and jokes about her lack of Japanese with the owner, who quarrels with his behind the scenes help. When she asks for Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) he turns serious. She tells him she needs "Japanese steel." as she has "vermin to kill."
Hattori: You must have big rats you need Hattori Hanzo's steel.Bride: Huge
He shows her his sword collection and tells her that he has retired and no longer makes "instruments of death." He refuses to give her one of his swords. She tells him "My vermin is a former student of yours, and considering the student, I'd say you have a rather large obligation." He writes "Bill" on a windowpane with his finger. He tells her it will take about a month to make her a sword and suggests she spend the time practicing.
He presents her the sword and says, "I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword. If on your journey, you should encounter God... ...God will be cut."

Chapter 5, Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves
The Bride tells us that a year after the El Paso Massacre, Bill backed O-Ren in her climb to the head of the Yakuza. We see that O-Ren and her gang the Crazy Eighty Eight, are now in charge. We see her assuming control of the Council of Yakuza Bosses, along with her best friend and second Lieutenant Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) and her bodyguard GoGo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyami), and Johnny Mo, leader of the Crazy Eighty Eight. A man objects to her position, questioning her half Japanese heritage and she promptly beheads him causing Gogo and Sofie to smile. She tells them, "The price you pay for bringing up either my Chinese or American heritage as a negative is: I collect your fucking head. Just like this fucker here."

The Bride buys a ticket to Tokyo, where we see O'Ren in a car with GoGo and Sofie. The Bride gets a yellow leather suit and matching motorcycle and drives around Tokyo, spotting Sofie. We see O'Ren and the Crazy Eighty Eight head to a club where everyone gladly gets out of their way as they go to a back room. We see the Bride sitting at the bar in the club, having seen them enter. O-Ren senses a problem and sends GoGo out to look. The Bride is hiding perched in the ceiling however so GoGo misses her. The Bride changes her clothes in the bathroom and catches Sofie, hearing her cell phone. With Sofie in hand, she calls out to O-Ren from the restaurant. "O-Ren Ishii! You and I have unfinished business!" When they respond, she hacks off one of Sofie's arms. O-Ren sends everyone on hand down to attack her but she defeats every one of them. GoGo gives her the toughest battle attacking with a metal ball on a chain.

O-Ren watches from overheard as we hear motorcycles arriving. The Bride asks, "Is that what I think it is?" O-Ren answers "You didn't think it would be that easy, did you?" The Bride answers "Yeah, for a second, I kinda did." O-Ren tells her "Silly Rabbit, Trix are for kids." We see the Crazy Eighty Eights storm in, and she defeats them all. She tells the surviving defeated that they can leave but they must leave their limbs behind as they belong to her. She orders Sofie to stay where she is.

She goes after O-Ren and finds her outside in the snow. O-Ren asks about the Bride's sword and where it was made. She tells her it's Hanzo Hattori steel, and O'Ren answers "You lie!" They duel, O'Ren remarking that the Bride must be tired. After a good battle, the Bride slices off the top of O'Ren's head. O-Ren remarks "That really was a Hattori Hanzo sword." She then says "Sofie, my Sofie, I'm sorry." before dying. The Bride crosses O-Ren off the list and takes off in a car with Sofie. She gets her out of the car to roll down a hill to a hospital. In the hospital we see Sophie talking to Bill. She begs Bill to forgive her betrayal. and we see Sophie remembering The Bride talking to her. She tells Bill that she kept her alive for two reasons, one being information. In her memory, The Bride says "I am going to ask you questions and every time you don't give me answers... ...I'm going to cut something off. And I promise you... ...they will be things you will miss." She tells her the second reason is so she can tell Bill what's coming for them all.

We see the Bride forming her hit list on a plane. We also see Bud (Michael Madsen) saying "She deserves her revenge. We deserve to die." We see Elle Driver and then Bill asking Sophie "Is she aware her daughter is still alive?" The credits start for the end of Volume 1.

Volume 2 opens and we see the scene between Bill and the Bride again. We find the Bride driving down the road, recounting the events of volume 1. She announces that she's going to "Kill Bill."

Chapter 6, A Massacre at Two Pines
The Bride recounts the wedding murder which has become legend since then. She tells us that it wasn't a wedding but a wedding rehearsal. The organist, Rufus (Samuel L. Jackson) suggests "Love Me Tender" as a song. Reverend Harmony (Bo Svenson) goes over protocol, and they determine that since the bride has no guests coming they don't need to split people guests up into sides. The Reverend's wife seems surprised that she has no one coming at all but she insists she has no one "Except for Tommy" (Christopher Allen Nelson) the prospective groom. The Bride steps outside for air and finds Bill sitting on the porch. He says "Hello Kiddo."
Bride: How did you find me
Bill: I'm the man.
Bride: What are you doing here?
Bill: What am I doing? A moment ago I was playing my flute. This moment I'm looking at the most beautiful bride my eyes have ever seen.
She asks him if he's going to be nice. He says "I've never been nice, but I'll do my best to be sweet."
He makes fun of Tommy, saying "I like his hair." She tells him that Tommy owns a record store and she works there. He compares her new life to her old one. She introduces Bill to Tommy, claiming that Bill is her father. Bill remarks that it's odd that they're all dressed for the rehearsal as it's bad luck to see the bride in her wedding dress.  Tommy says "I believe in living dangerously." Bill answers "I know just what you mean."
Bill tells her "If he's the man you want, go stand by him." As they begin the rehearsal, we see The Deadly Viper Squad approaching outside, dressed in black followed by gunshots moments later.

We then move to a mobile home in the desert where we find Bill visiting Bud, telling him about what happened to O'Ren and the Crazy Eighty Eight. Bud is surprised to hear that Hanzo made her a sword since Hanzo swore a vow. Bud remarks :Them Japs, they know how to hold a grudge, don't they? Or maybe you just bring that out in people." He tells Bill that he hasn't kept up with his swordplay and pawned a Hattori sword that Bill gave him years ago. Bill tells him "You've got to get over being mad at me and start being afraid of ..." He tells Bud that if he doesn't accept assistance, she's bound to succeed in killing him. He tells Bill "I don't dodge guilt and I don't Jew out of paying my comeuppance" Bill asks him to forget the past, but Bud tells him she deserves her revenge and they deserve to die adding "but then again, so does she, so I guess we'll just see, won't we?"

Chapter 7, The Lonely Grave of Paula Schulz
We see Bud going to work as a bouncer at a strip club. When he gets there, the boss, Larry wants a word with him. Taking a break from snorting coke with a stripper, he says "I don't know what car wash you worked at before that let you stroll in twenty minutes late, but it wasn't owned by me and I own a car wash." Bud points out that there are no customers at the bar, but Larry calls him useless and makes a point of scratching all of Bud's work days off the calendar. He tells him to go home and not come back to work until he hears from him. Larry mentions his cowboy hat reminding him he was told not to wear it. Bud points out that customers wear hats. He says "I'm not the boss of the customers, I'm the boss of you." On the way out, Bud agrees to fix an overflowing toilet.

He returns to his trailer and senses something wrong, stopping in his tracks. He enters his trailer but looks around. We see the Bride hiding underneath the trailer.When she opens the door attempting to sneak in, Bud shoots her with a shotgun blast of rock salt in the chest. He laughs and tells her he can't imagine how that must sting. She spits in his face and he injects her with a sedative before calling Elle Driver, offering the Bride's sword for a million dollars. Elle agrees on the condition that the Bride suffer up to her last breath.

Budd and a friend dig a hole in the cemetery for the Bride. He gives her a choice, she can get buried without resisting and receive a flashlight or resist and have her eyes maced. She picks the flashlight. Bud and his friend nail the coffin shut and bury her. Bud tells her "This is for breaking my brother's heart." While buried she panics and sobs until her flashlight goes out.

Chapter 8, The Cruel Tutelage of  Pai Mei
We see Bill and the Bride sitting together at a campfire. Bill plays the flute and tells a story.
Bill: Once upon a time, in China, some believe around the year one double aught-three, head priest of the White Lotus Clan, Pai Mei, was walking down a road contemplating whatever it is that a man of Pai Mei's infinite powers would contemplate, which is another way of saying, "Who knows?" when a Shaolin monk appeared on the road traveling in the opposite direction. As the monk and the priest crossed paths, Pai Mei, in a practically unfathomable display of generosity, gave the monk the slightest of nods. The nod was not returned. Now, was it the intention of the Shaolin monk to insult Pai Mei? Or did he just fail to see the generous social gesture? The motives of the monk remain unknown. What is known were the consequences. The next morning, Pai Mei appeared at the Shaolin temple and demanded of the temple's head abbot that he offer Pai Mei his neck to repay the insult. The abbot, at first, tried to console Pai Mei. Only to find Pai Mei was... ...inconsolable. So began the Massacre of the Shaolin Temple, and all sixty of the monks inside, at the fists of the White Lotus. And so began the legend of Pai Mei's Five-Point-Palm Exploding-Heart Technique.Bride: And what, pray tell, is the Five Point Palm Exploding-Heart Technique?
Bill: Quite simply, the deadliest blow in all of martial arts. He hits you with his fingertips at five different pressure points on your body and then lets you walk away. But once you've taken five steps, your heart explodes inside your body and you fall to the floor, dead.
Bride: Did he teach you that?
Bill: No. He teaches no one the Five Point-Palm Exploding-Heart Technique. Now, one of the things I've always liked about you, Kiddo, is you appear wise beyond your years. So, allow me to impart a word to the wise, whatever, whatever Pai Mei says, obey. If you flash him, even for an instant a defiant eye, he'll pluck it out. And if you throw any American sass his way, he'll snap your back and your neck like they were twigs. And that will be the story of you. 

We find Bill and the Bride the next day, Bill comes walking down some stairs with some bruises and tells the Bride, "He'll accept you." When she asks why, he says that Pai Mei is lonely. He tells her that he'll come get her whenever Pai Mei says she's done, adding "He hates Caucasians,despises Americans, and has nothing but contempt for women. So in your case... it might take a little while."

He drives off leaving her there.  She walks up the stairs to meet him. He insults her Chinese and tells her he will speak to her like a dog. He asks about her skills and she tells him "I am proficient in Tiger-Crane Style, and I am more than proficient in the exquisite art of the Samurai sword. " He insults the samurai sword, saying  "The exquisite art of the Samurai sword.Don't make me laugh! Your so-called exquisite art, is only fit for... Japanese fat heads!" He instructs her to grab a sword and attack him. He toys with her, easily besting her with his bare hands and feet, even standing on her sword to kick her. He then as easily bests her martial arts and tells her that training begins tomorrow. Along with her training, he instructs her to punch a hole in a board from three inches away which seems impossible. She starts to make some progress and his contempt lessens.

We return to the cemetery, where the Bride turns on the flashlight. She wiggles out of her boots to get her feet free of the belt tied around them. She pulls a razor from her boot and cuts the rope around her hands. She says "Okay Pai Mai, here I come." and starts punching the coffin lid, getting it bloody but breaking through it. We see her arm come up from the dirt and she crawls out. She walks to a nearby diner, still covered in dirt and orders a glass of water.

Chapter 9, Elle and I
We see Elle driving to meet Bud. She approaches his trailer with a briefcase. We then see the Bride walking in the desert. She watches from a distance as Elle arrives at Bud's trailer. He tells Elle that the Bride is buried in Paula Schulz' grave. He tells her the sword is hers if his money is in the case. She asks about his own Hattori Hanzo sword. And he says he used to have one. He asks Elle, which "R" are you filled with?
She asks what he means, and he tells her,
"They say the number one killer of old people is retirement. People got a job to do, they tend to live a little bit longer so they can do it. I've always figured that warriors and their enemies share the same relationship. So now that you're not gonna have to face your enemy no more on the battlefield which "R" ya filled with? Relief... ...or regret?" She tells him Relief at first, but then changes it to Regret when he doesn't believe her.

Bud opens the case full of money, but finds Elle has hidden a Black Mamba in the case, which bites him. She tells him, "I'm sorry, Budd. That was rude of me, wasn't it? Budd, I'd like to introduce my friend, the black mamba. Black mamba, this is Budd. You know, before I picked that little fella up, I looked him up on the Internet. Fascinating creature, the black mamba. Listen to this: (groans) "In Africa, the saying goes, "'ln the bush, an elephant can kill you, a leopard can kill you, "'and a black mamba can kill you. But only with the mamba, "and this has been true in Africa since the dawn of time, is death sure.' Hence its handle, 'Death Incarnate. Pretty cool, huh?"As Bud dies she tells him in these last agonizing minutes of life you have left, let me answer that question you asked earlier more thoroughly. Right at this moment... ...the biggest "R" I feel is regret. Regret that maybe the greatest warrior I have ever met met her end at the hands of a bushwhackin', scrub, alchie, piece of shit like you. That woman deserved better."

She collects the money and the sword. Bill calls and Elle tells him that the Bride killed Bud with the Black Mamba and that she then killed her.She adds, "Let me put it this way, you ever start feeling sentimental, go to Barstow, California. When you get here, walk into a florist and buy a bunch of flowers. Then you take those flowers to Huntington Cemetery on Fuller and Guadalupe, look for the headstone marked "Paula Schultz," and lay them on the grave. because you will be standing at the final resting place of Beatrix Kiddo." We then see the Bride as a kid answering roll call as Beatrix Kiddo. As Elle leaves, the Bride swings in the door and kicks her. They starts fighting, destroying the place.  Elle has the Bride's sword, but the Bride finds Bud's Hanzo sword, which is inscribed "To Bud, the only man I've ever loved." The Bride asks "Something I've always been curious about. Just between us girls, what did you say to Pai Mei to make him snatch out your eye?" Elle answers "I called him a miserable old fool." She then reveals that afterwards she killed him by poisoning his fish heads. She then threatens to kill the Bride. The two fight with swords, but the Bride pulls out Elle's other eye and stomps on it, leaving her there with the Black Mamba.

Last Chapter, Face to Face
The Bride heads to Mexico to find Bill's old friend, Esteban Vihaio (Michael Parks.) She narrates "Like most men who never knew their father, Bill collected father figures. The first was Esteban Vihaio. Esteban was a pimp and a friend of Bill's mother. He ran a brothel in Acuna, Mexico for over years. His army, the Acuna Boys, made up of the fatherless offspring of his whores, ran Acuna. He ran the Acuna Boys. Now, at the age of it would be this retired gentleman of leisure who could point me in Bill's direction." She finds him and quickly asks him where Bill is. He answers "You must be Beatrix. I can see the attraction. I remember when Bill was only five years old, I took him to the movies. It was a movie starring Lana Turner. The Postman Always Ring Twice, with John Garfields. And whenever she would appear on the screen, Bill would begin compulsively to suck his thumb to an obscene amount. And I knew from this very moment, this boy was a fool for blonds." He flatters her. She repeatedly asks where Bill is and he finally tells her. He then says "Bill is like a son to me. DO you know why I help you? Because he would want me to." She answers "Now that I don't believe."

She takes off to find Bill, but is surprised when Bill and her daughter, B.B., aim toy guns at her and her daughter says "Freeze, Mommy." The Bride breaks down into tears. Bill reminds her to play dead, saying "You're dead, Mommy. So die." She plays along. B.B. tells her she was only playing and The Bride says she knows, giving her a hug. I told her that you were asleep, but that one day you'd wake up and come back to her. And she asked me, "If Mommy's been asleep since I was born, then how will she know what I look like?" To which I replied, "Because Mommy's been dreaming of you." The Bride tells her that she has. Bill tells the Bride about B.B.'s recent incident killing her goldfish. Putting the girl to bed, he tells B.B., that he did to Mommy what she did to the goldfish and that she is angry with him.The Bride and B.B., watch "Shogun Assassin" together in B.B.'s bed.

The Bride gets up when B.B. is asleep. She leaves B.B.'s room and looks for Bill. She finds him admiring her sword. He tells her he's surprised he got Hanzo to make her a sword. She tells him "It was easy. I just dropped your name, Bill." He answers "That would do it." Bill suggests that they have a sword fight on the beach or do it at dawn. She rushes for her sword, but he fires a pistol at her keeping her from reaching it.He then tells her,  "I have a few unanswered questions. So, before this tale of bloody revenge reaches its climax, I'm gonna ask you some questions, and I want you to tell me the truth. However, therein lies a dilemma. Because when it comes to the subject of me, I believe you are truly and utterly incapable of telling the truth. Especially to me. And least of all, to yourself. And when it comes to the subject of me, I am truly and utterly incapable of believing anything you say." She asks him how they can solve this and he shoots her, telling her he shot her with a truth serum.

He then tells her, "As you know, I'm quite keen on comic books. Especially the ones about superheroes. I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating. Take my favorite superhero, Superman. Not a great comic book. Not particularly well-drawn, but the mythology. The mythology is not only great, it's unique. Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is, there's the superhero and there's the alter ego. Batman is actually Bruce Wayne, Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker. When that character wakes up in the morning, he's Peter Parker. He has to put on a costume to become Spider-Man. And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone. Superman didn't become Superman. Superman was born Superman. When Superman wakes up in the morning, he's Superman. His alter ego is Clark Kent. His outfit with the big red "S" that's the blanket he was wrapped in as a baby when the Kents found him. Those are his clothes. What Kent wears - the glasses, the business suit - that's the costume. That's the costume Superman wears to blend in with us. Clark Kent is how Superman views us. And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent? He's weak... ...he's unsure of himself... ...he's a coward. Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race. Sorta like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plimpton."
Bride: Aso. The point emerges.
Bill: You would've worn the costume of Arlene Plimpton. But you were born Beatrix Kiddo. And every morning when you woke up, you'd still be Beatrix Kiddo.
Bride: Are you calling me a superhero?
Bill: I'm calling you a killer. A natural born killer.You always have been,and you always will be. Moving to El Paso, working in a used record store, going to the movies with Tommy, clipping coupons. That's you trying to disguise yourself as a worker bee. That's you tryin' to blend in with the hive. But you're not a worker bee. You're a renegade killer bee. And no matter how much beer you drank or barbecue you ate or how fat your ass got, nothing in the world would ever change that. First question: Did you really think your life in El Paso was gonna work?
Bride: No! But I would've had B.B.!
Bill: Don't get me wrong. I think you would have been a wonderful mother. But you are a killer. All those people you killed to get to me, felt damn good, didn't they? 
Bride: Yes.
He then asks her why she left with his baby. She tells him about her last assignment, finding out about her pregnancy, just before a woman tried to kill her. She explains that she chose between Bill or her daughter. Bill tells her it wasn't her decision to make. He tells her that he assumed someone had killed her. He tells her "for the record, letting somebody think somebody they love is dead when they're not is quite cruel. I mourned you for three months. And in the third month of mourning you I tracked you down. I wasn't trying to track you down. I was trying to track down the fucking assholes I thought killed you. So I find you and what do I find? Not only are you not dead, you're getting married to some fucking jerk. And you're pregnant. I overreacted."
She isn't happy with the explanation.and he continues "I'm a killer. I'm a murdering bastard. You know that. And there are consequences... ...to breaking the heart of a murdering bastard. You experienced some of them. Was my reaction really that surprising?"  
She tells him she didn't think he could do it to her. He tells her "I'm really sorry, Kiddo, but you thought wrong."
She tells him "You and I have some unfinished business." and he answers "You ain't kidding."
They reach for swords and she manages to catch his sword in a sheath before performing the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique.
Bill: Why didn't you tell me?
Bride: I don't know. Because I'm a bad person?
Bill: No. You're not a bad person. You're a terrific person. You're my favorite person. But every once in a while, you can be a real cunt. How do I look?
Bride: You look ready. 
Bill gets up, walks five steps and dies. The Bride grabs B.B. and takes off. We see them together in a hotel room, B.B. watching T.V., while her mother sobs/ laughs in the bathroom, that it's all over.


Unknown said...

Epic post! I did one just the other day. LOL I'm really loving M's QT blogathon.

Kill Bill features four the best roles ever written for women and each one of these ladies owns their parts. I absolutely love the mash-up of different styles as they are all film genres I love.

And thank you for pointing out the name of that tune that Elle whistles. It sticks in head long after I've finished watching the movies.

INDBrent said...

Thanks Mel! I'm enjoying it too, gives me a nudge to cover all these important films! I'll be over to check yours out! Evil little tune, isn't it?

Nick said...


Nick from www.cinekatz.com here. Doing some scout work for the LAMB. We're wanting to make an email newsletter for community features as well as a list we're making similar to Sight & Sound's best movies of all time list. Just need an email! Email me at npowe131 at gmail.com

INDBrent said...

Hi Nick! Cool! I'll send my email to you.

M. Hufstader said...

Excellent review as always! I do love this movie more than I should. I love your analogy of the little kid's one-upping each other--that really is exactly what this movie feels like. And, of course, the detailed descriptions of each and every character are spot on. Great review!

INDBrent said...

Thanks , M.! Yeah, Q.T.'s got a lot of talents, but I think his storytelling is the biggest one. Kill Bill gets that across so well!