20 Things to know about “Kill Bill”

Killer Knowledge: A Fistful of Essential Lessons About Blood, Cartoons and Cereal
This you know: Bill dies–hence the title. That’s no secret. Other things you know already about the intense, kitschy revenge movie Kill Bill: Volume 1: It’s packed with kung fu, samurai swords, Uma Thurman and the big comeback of ’90s film-geek savant Quentin Tarantino.
But what you don’t know about Kill Bill could fill a Tokyo skyscraper. The flick’s stuffed with obscure film lore, cameos aplenty, loving odes to Asian cinema–and just a whole bunch of weird stuff. Here’s a taste.
Ball & chain: Gore-hungry Go Go (Chiaki Kuriyama) and her toy.
1. The Grindhouse Doesn’t Sell Meat: Tarantino’s big buzzword these days–he calls Bill a “grindhouse” movie–is a toss to run-down theaters from the ’70s. These grindhouses would show the gruesome, out-there and too foreign flicks you couldn’t find in the megaplex. Here, Tarantino gorged on horror, import kung fu and blaxploitation marathons, cooking up Bill’s blood-spurtin’, music-screechin’ over-the-top vibe.
2. Warren Beatty Was Supposed to Be Bill: But that didn’t work out. So, David Carradine took the part, which makes sense since he starred in the Kung Fu TV series and not, like, Ishtar.
3. The Bride’s Getting Old: The opening credits say the movie is based on “The Bride, created by Q&U.” That would be Quentin and Uma, you see, who cooked up the concept of a wedding-day massacre–and the revenge that follows–on the Pulp Fiction set. That was a decade ago. In the meantime, Tarantino wrote a WWII epic (actually, three WWII epics) called Inglorious Bastards, and Uma married (and separated from) Ethan Hawke and had two kids.
4. Computers Were Used, Like, Once: Unlike today’s rash of slick Matrix-ized action flicks, Bill has only a few tiny CGI shots (to remove wires from fighters flying through the air). “If I’d wanted all that computer-game bulls–t,” Tarantino tells Britain’s Empire magazine, “I’d have gone home and stuck my d–k in my Nintendo.”
5. Kung-Fu Roots Go Deep–Like to the ’70s: The movie’s packed with sly shout-outs to Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers Studios. Never heard of it? Strange, as the family has squeezed out hundreds of kung-fu classics, all with fountains of blood and such names as Five Deadly Venoms. Bill even opens with a faux title card declaring it’s filmed in “ShawScope,” and Shaw legend Gordon Liu (surely you know him from Eight Diagram Pole Fighter) shows up in a black mask, yelling and kicking.
6. The Bride Has a Name: Whenever Thurman’s character (billed only as the Bride) is mentioned, her name’s beeped out. Why? Nobody will say. What are the actors actually saying? Vivica A. Fox, who plays badass assassin Vernita Green, tells us: “Beatrix.” Really, it’s that easy? Yep. But then she adds, “Did you just get me in trouble?”
7. Quentin Rips Himself Off: The director fills Bill with playful references to his own movie universe, like:
ï The Bride, at one point, walks past a mural-size ad for Red Apple cigarettes, the brand smoked by Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction and seen in the Tarantino-directed segment of Four Rooms.
ï Michael Parks plays the shades-wearin’ Texas Ranger Earl McGraw, same as in the Tarantino-written From Dusk Till Dawn.
8. The DiVAS Code Names Are Snakes: The Bride was part of the five-member Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS), which should sound familiar. Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction had shot a TV pilot for Fox Force Five, a five-member team of, yes, assassins! In Bill, their handles are all venomous reptiles: Cottonmouth, Sidewinder, Black Mamba, Cobra, California Mountain Snake.
9. The Japanese Version Has More Blood: Despite gallons of spilled red corn syrup and dozens of sliced-off body parts, Kill Bill: Volume 1 managed an R rating. But the cut seen in Tokyo probably wouldn’t. What’s different? For one thing, one guts-soaked sequence–shown in cringing black-and-white in the U.S. version–will remain in vivid color.
10. Don’t Mess with Sonny Chiba: The longtime Japanese superstar plays a sword master who has sworn off the trade but helps the Bride get her revenge. Unlike in his many Street Fighter flicks, he’s low-key here, making fine swords–and fish.
11. On Set, Uma Pigged Out on Tamales: Seriously. She told us.
12. Julie Dreyfus Really Is Big in Japan: The French-born, Japanese-fluent actress plays Sofie Fatale, an ice-cold Yakuza crime-lord associate. Never seen her? You probably don’t live in Japan, where she’s such a big deal she was one of the judges on Iron Chef.
13. Cartoons Can Hurt: One of the film’s many chapters is a startling and stark 10-minute anime segment. Again, this’ll be familiar to hard-core nerds who’ll recognize the animation by Production IG, the Japanese house responsible for Ghost in the Shell and Blood: The Last Vampire.
14. Beware: Zamfir Is Involved: Yeah, that’s right. The master of the pan flute joins Nancy Sinatra, Quincy Jones and Isaac Hayes on the soundtrack. Word is the Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, who composed the original music, heard Zamfir’s haunting melodies in a restaurant and thought they’d be perfect.
15. Uma Took Bruce Lee’s Clothes: Does that yellow- and black-striped jumpsuit the hero wears look familiar? Then you’re one of those people who’ve seen Game of Death, a Bruce Lee movie in which the martial-arts master has the…same jumpsuit!
16. Quentin Loves His Cereal: During one fight scene, Vivica A. Fox takes out a box of old-school cereal called Kaboom!–which leads to a lethal joke. This continues an odd trend that’s part of this nutritious breakfast: Both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction featured long-discontinued sugary pops called Fruit Brute.
17. There’s a Volume 2, Remember? The first installment ends in a cliffhanger, so here’s what we know so far about part two.
ï It’s less of a samurai movie and more of a spaghetti western in the tradition of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars.
ï There’s another animated sequence.
ï There’s more of what we expect from Tarantino: talky dialogue, chopped-up and out-of-order narrative. Plus, plenty of Carradine’s face, which we don’t actually see in Volume 1.
ï Tarantino has a small role, and he fights.
ï Bill dies.
18. Tokyo’s Done Godzilla Style: Again avoiding computer imagery, Tarantino filmed the scene of an airplane landing in Tokyo using old-school miniature models. And that skyline? It’s the same one used in the last Godzilla movie from director IshirÙ Honda.
19. Johnny Knoxville Is Now Officially a Muse: Tarantino admits that, yes, he took inspiration from modern “cinema” as well. After watching Jackass: The Movie, he changed what he calls “a brutal bitch fight” in Volume 2 to be…slightly grosser.
20. The Pussy Wagon Gets Around: Tarantino likes the movie’s signature car–a truck painted with flames and the words Pussy Wagon–so much he has been driving it around Los Angeles, including to last week’s premiere.