In the previous project Global Context, I really stayed away from looking at Japanese and American films that might be inspired by HKC, electing to focus primarily on HKC films solely. However as this is a new project altogether but linking to Global Context I thought I would start my secondary research by looking slightly further a field. in particular at films that have been inspired by HKC to get a better idea of how the visual language has translated.
First off I looked at Kill Bill by Quentin Tarantino, it had been some time before I last saw both of the Kill Bill's volume one and two. Rewatching post Global Context I can see just how much of this series of films has been influenced by HKC. I will try to note a few to demonstrate the range of influences.
The first and most obvious link is the fact that a lot of the film, in particular a flash back of Beatrix training is filmed in china. And not only do they speak chinese, but the male chinese character, Pai Mei asks if Beatrix can speak cantonese, the favoured and predominate language used in HKC. The other strange thing in the setting is that it could almost be a wuxia setting, it has that classic old ruined temple from ancient china, Bill even alludes to the fact that Pai Mei is hundreds of years old which again fits nicely with the Wuxia aesthetic, the idea of a taoist spirit being so at one with the universe that it can stay strong and healthy for many more years than normally possible.
I have also found out that tarantino had four major influences for Kill Bill, two of which are Japanese films called, Lady Snowblood and Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41. Ok so not HKC but east asian, they are also of the same time that King Hu was operating which links up quite nicely as these Japanese films all stared strong vengeful women.
One giant, direct reference to HKC is in the use of Beatrixs outfit when she fights in japan. She is wearing an identical suit to that of Bruce Lee in his final film, Game of Death. This is quite a bold reference that it really does not attempt to hide in any way, I feel that by giving the suit to the main hero to wear rather than the bad guy, Tarantino is doing this as a sign of respect or tribute to Bruce Lee. I really like this kind of direct reference, at first it just sent obvious that this is where it comes from, but this really hits at the heart of using other references within your film/production. It seems to ping a light of enjoyment, if you can connect these dots, not only do you get a better feel for the film, but you understand why Quentin and how Quentin was inspired to make this film. He is showing us everything that built up the film with so many neat little clues, and because you can see some of them, you want to unravel more to almost discover the mystery. It’s a brilliant way of bringing in the viewer more. I also love this method of building something, taking all the best parts from secondary research, things that have inspired you over the years into one focused production that shows them all in a new light, or packages them all up in a new way for audiences to enjoy, I feel this is certainly what sums up intertextuality.
I previously mentioned the film ‘Lady Snow Blood’ as one of the main influences for the Kill Bill series. I have managed to watch this film as well and can safely say that the links are very clear. Even going so far as to use the music from the original film in Kill Bill. See a link to the post where I talk about this film HERE.
Here is some other brilliant little bits that Tarantino added to the film to give it his personal touch, this also are the perfect example of how his films draw you in to discover all his little curiosities.
1. Lucy Lu says to Uma Thurman after Uma killed all her guys, “I hope you saved some energy otherwise you might not last 5 minutes", it take Uma only 4:59 to slice Lucy Lu’s scalp off and kill her.
2. The American FDA were unhappy with the amount of blood being shown in the film and were going to bad it, so this is why it switches to black and white half way through to get around this, which is what happens. The Japanese version however remains in colour.
3. The bottom of Uma Thurman’s shoe says ‘Fuck U’ which is initially not something you spot until you slow it down a bit.
4. The idea for Kill Bill was created whilst Uma and Quentin worked together on Pulp Fiction, they both talked about how they had a love of 70’s Hong Kong Cinema, Kung Fu Movies.
5. Every single character in the first and second film is killed by a female character.
6. The same white car that gets smashed to pieces in Pulp Fiction is also driven by Jackie Brown, and is in the car park by the strip club in Kill Bill Vol. 2.
7. The fight scene between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah originally was going to be graceful, but was inspired to make it horrific after watching Jackass.
8. Tarantino gives nods to the Wu-Tang Clan when David Carradine shots Uma Thurman with the dart he calls her the as a 'Natural Born killer’ and 'Renegade Killer Bee’ which are both projects done by the Wu Tang and the musical producer of the film the RZA
9. The Character Pai Mei is based on an actual Kung Fu master called Boc Mei who was said to be quite cruel.
10. The scene where Uma goes to the brothel is an actual brothel, the extras in the background are actual prostitutes.
11. Some of the crew that worked on Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon also worked in Kill Bill like Uma Thurman's Kung Fu Trainer.
12. The Pai Mei ‘5 point palm exploding heart technique’ features in 3 HKC films from the 70’s