Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is best known, at least by Quentin Tarantino himself, as Tarantino’s first Movie Movie Universe film. To explain. Tarantino has said he makes two types of films: ones belonging in The Realer than Real World Universe, and others in The Movie Movie Universe. The Realer than Real World Universe is for films that are based in a slightly heightened version of reality. This is where Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown belong. The Movie Movie Universe is an alternate, fantastical reality. To put it simpler: characters from The Realer than Real World Universe would likely go see a film from The Movie Movie Universe. Which makes sense. I mean, can’t you imagine Ordell Robbie loving the shit out of Kill Bill?
So, in short, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 was a real departure from the QT films that came before. It literally opened the filmmaker up to a whole new world.
The retro music, the throwback title cards – it’s Tarantino establishing that what we’re about to see takes place in a world devoted entirely to cinema, not real life.
The sound of empty shell casings moving on the floor as Bill (David Carradine) walks by.
Interesting that Tarantino actively withheld his directing credit (and “A Film By” declarations) from the opening credits of his first three films, yet it is the first title card we see in Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
The barely-there sound of wind blowing during the opening credits.
The sound design of Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) hitting The Bride (Uma Thurman) in the knee with a wood table leg. You can feel that shit.
The way the camera shakes with the floor when Verita is slammed down.
That little move Fox does with her shoulders when she brings her fist back. So badass.
Nice little bit of not-so-subtle foreshadowing.
The fact that we know O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) is dead in minute 15 of the film, but we don’t see her get sliced for another 83 minutes.
Love that the first thing we hear in Chapter 2 is the same few bars of the song that played when Mr. Blonde turned on the radio in Reservoir Dogs.
Why is this setting title card in quotes with no end punctuation?! QT, I love you and your mysterious ways.
The fact that Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) and Son Number One (James Parks) are indeed father and son in real life.
McGraw’s POV shot accurately reflecting what life looks like through his bitchin’ shades.
Why is Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) introduced with such a large title card, when Vernita Green wasn’t?! Ohh, QT.
I say this all the time in response to “I guess.” Like, in real life.
And then this card gets a period. I genuinely love how much fun Tarantino has with title cards.
I love how animated The Bride is. Some of her movements and facial expressions play like slapstick (the way she slams herself down on the bed after this shot is hilarious). It adds a nice punch of humor to the film. It’s Tarantino’s way of reminding us that we are indeed watching a movie, and it is okay to have fun while doing so.
That hot white light under Buck’s (Michael Bowen) hands.
Buck and his cross.
The most disgusting can of Vaseline – eer, sorry, Vasalube – that has ever existed.
I’ve always wondered how The Bride actually killed that redneck bastard, but I love that Tarantino doesn’t show us.
My favorite line of the movie. Priceless.
The noise the wheelchair makes when The Bride stops suddenly in the parking garage.
Love the attention to detail in this scene. Thurman makes you believe that The Bride pulling herself into Buck’s Pussy Wagon is the hardest thing the character has to do in the whole damn movie.
I’ve always loved this shot of Liu. Her sly confidence tells us everything we need to know about O-Ren.
Showing Boss Matsumoto slam his sword down three times.
This look of complete, relaxed satisfaction.
Blink and you’ll miss it, kiddo.
The Bride’s purposefully dimwitted American-girl-in-Japan disposition when she meets Hattori Hanzo (Shin’ichi Chiba). She’s such a good hustler.
Hattori Hanzo throwing his knife on the magnetic wall rack.
The sound of the Bald Guy (Kenji Ohba) dropping a dish in the background when The Bride first says, “Hattori Hanzo.”
The way Hanzo’s hand falls as he puts a glorious tittle over the ‘i’.
Tarantino punctuating the character introductions in this scene with a hilarious musical note that sounds like it’s from a ‘70s porno (or, of course, an old school kung-fu flick).
Green-colored subtitles, because why the hell not?
The dude on the right fanning himself out of shock.
The napkin landing perfectly on Boss Tanaka’s (Jun Kunimura) hands.
Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) translating for O-Ren without O-Ren having to ask.
I adore how intentionally fake the exterior airplane scenes look. Like the taxi cab scene in Pulp Fiction.
Gotta love movie magic.
Great stealth oner (long takes that do not draw attention to themselves as long takes): O-Ren and her Crazy 88 crew enter their private room, The 5, 6, 7, 8’s are established, and the camera pans over to reveal The Bride. Shot length: 36 seconds.
O-Ren laughing. Who knew she could?
Another great stealth oner (1 minute 55 seconds): following The Bride in and around and up and over the club, tracking the owners of the club, then following Sofie into the bathroom.
Blood on the lens. So good.
The sound design of The Bride/Gogo (Chiaki Kuriyama) fight alone should’ve earned the film an Oscar nomination for Best Sound Editing.
Johnny Mo’s (Gordon Liu) fighting noises. “WAH cho WAH cho WAH cho!”
Pretty much everything in the House of Blue Leaves fight scene has been discussed ad nauseum. But the first time I saw The Bride jump on her back and begin slicing off the Crazy 88’s limbs while she breakdanced... I knew I was in the presence of greatness. It still gives me chills.
The sound of the Crazy 88s wallowing in pain. Tarantino wants it to be funny.
The Bride sliding the doors open to reveal this flawless set.
Cutting back to Sofie in the hospital and hearing The Bride yell “Give me your other arm!” in voiceover. The command in Thurman’s voice is terrifying.
The way the color slowly comes in on The Bride’s eyes and earring in this shot.
The final shot still gives me chills. Dreyfus’ terror, the buildup of the music, that final line… it’s just perfect.
More ‘No One Talks About’ Lists