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Feature: Kill Bill Volume 2
We give the full story of the making of the second part of Quentin Tarantino’s martial arts revenge saga, hearing from Uma Thurman, Tarantino and David Carradine.
Quirkier, with less focus on swordplay, Volume 2 contrasts with its predecessor in its reduced emphasis on severed limbs and free-flowing rivers of blood.
“It’s still pretty violent,” director Tarantino insists. “Sonny Chiba has a little speech at the very end of the first movie where he goes, ‘Revenge is never a straight line, it’s a forest. It’s easy to get lost and forget where you came in.’ Well, Volume I is the straight line. In Volume I, it was hard to do what she had to do, but it’s like, ‘Kill Vernita, done that’.
“Volume 2 is the forest. Now, human stuff starts getting into it. Now, it’s not just killing them all the way down the list, and it gets more complicated. It’s not quite as easy.”
The Bride’s face-offs with Elle Driver and Bill’s trailer trash brother Budd leads her to Bill’s lair in Mexico. The film also gives a full account of the wedding rehearsal massacre, and clarifies The Bride’s relationship to Bill, and her former position in the upper echelons of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad.
“In the hierarchy of the Deadly Vipers,” says Tarantino, “Uma’s the top one. She’s the one who has Bill’s ear and heart. If Bill is the pimp, Uma’s character is the number one lady in his stable, the girl who keeps the other whores in line.”
The two volumes are certainly distinct entities: they have their own tone, their own focus, the first dominated by Japanese samurai sword fighting, the second marked by Chinese martial arts. This tonal segregation is quite remarkable, especially when one considers that Tarantino wrote and shot Kill Bill as one entity.
“If I had thought while I was writing it that Miramax would be willing to release it in two parts, I would have suggested it then,” says Tarantino. “But I frankly never thought Harvey Weinstein [the co-chairman of Miramax] would. Later on, when he himself said he didn’t want to cut a thing and would we consider releasing it as two movies, I said, ‘What an interesting idea!’ Within an hour, I had figured out exactly how to do it.”
“The idea came up about a month before we ended shooting,” continues the director’s long-serving producer Lawrence Bender.
“Quentin wrote the script in chapters, so it kind of lends itself to that idea. We finished the movie, got onto the editing stage and worked on it, and then we called Harvey into the editing room. We all felt that it totally worked. It’s not over because you haven’t killed Bill. And it’s called Kill Bill, so you know there’s more to come. You feel relatively satisfied, but you’re yearning for more.”
For Volume 2, Tarantino and his creative team travelled to China, where the cast continued fight training and rehearsals before photography began at the Beijing Film Studios. In such circumstances it’s standard practice for a Hollywood film to export a largely American crew, but the director broke with convention by hiring local talent in key production roles. Overall the film employed a Chinese, a Japanese and an American production designer, a Chinese and an American costume designer, and a Chinese and an American prop master..
by Harry Thompson
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