In order to achieve the specific look of Chinese "wuxia" (martial arts) film of the 1970s, Quentin Tarantino gave director of photography, Robert Richardson, an extensive list of genre films as a crash-course in the visual style they used. The list included films by genre-pioneers Cheh Chang and the Shaw Brothers. Tarantino also forbade the use of digital effects and "professional" gags and squibs. As such, he insisted that bloody spurts be done in the fashion made popular by Chang Cheh: Chinese condoms full of fake blood that would splatter on impact.
At the beginning of the fight scene between O-Ren and The Bride, after O-Ren says, in Japanese, "I hope you saved your energy. If you haven't you may not last 5 minutes", it is exactly 4 minutes and 59 seconds from the time she steps forward and the music cues, until the fatal blow of the duel.
According to Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman in the DVD documentary the idea for doing "Kill Bill" began during the filming of Pulp Fiction (1994). The two began talking about the kinds of movies that they would like to do and Quentin said he would like to do a 70's style kung-fu flick. Uma came up with the film's opening shot of her beaten up and wearing a wedding gown.
Ellie Driver's codename, the California Mountain Kingsnake, is the only one of the 5 that isn't a venomous snake. Incidentally, when The Bride is in a coma, Ellie can't kill her by injecting poison into her IV.
The black and white photography is ultimately an homage to '70s and '80s US television airings of kung fu movies. Black and white (as well as black and red), were used to conceal the shedding of blood from television censors. Originally, no black and white photographic effects were going to be used (and in the Japanese version none are), but the MPAA demanded measures be taken to tone the scene down. Tarantino merely used the old trick for its intended purpose, rather than merely as an homage.
When 'The Bride' is walking towards the stairs in the House of Blue Leaves to fight the first round of bodyguards you see a shot taken from underneath through the glass floor. The bottom of her shoes reads "Fuck U".
As Quentin Tarantino was leaving Japan after initial location scouting and securing the studios, he heard the all girl band "The 5,6,7,8's" playing over the store's speakers. He was so intrigued by the music that he asked a clerk who the band was. When he was told, Tarantino, who didn't have enough time to go to a music shop to get their CD, begged the clerk to sell him their copy. Quentin took the disc home, listened to it, and immediately signed the band to play during the "Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves" segment. All of the band's songs, including the stand-out "Woo Hoo" are covers of early 60's surfer songs.
Quentin Tarantino originally intended to cast a Japanese actress to play O-Ren Ishii, but before casting began he saw Lucy Liu's work in Shanghai Noon (2000) and immediately changed O-Ren into a Chinese-Japanese American so that Liu could play the part.
Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) was actually whistling "Twisted Nerve" whilst entering the hospital for the scene. It sounded quite professional, but it was masked over; the instrumental was taken off, and the sole whistling from Herrman's song was what we hear until she enters a changing ward.
Quentin Tarantino in his conversation with Indian director Anurag Kashyap admitted that that the celebrated manga animation-action sequence in Kill Bill was inspired from 2001 Hindi-Tamil film, Aalavandhan (2001) starring Kamal Hassan. Tarantino was quoted saying 'Yes, saw this Indian serial-killer film which showed violence as animated'.
Gogo Yubari is not a real Japanese name. "Gogo" derives from Mach GoGoGo (aka Speed Racer), a Japanese anime that Quentin Tarantino liked when he was young. Yubari is the name of a small town in Hokkaido, northern Japan, that is famous for melons and film. Tarantino's first visit to Japan was to showcase Reservoir Dogs (1992) at the Yubari International Fantastic Film Festival.
The members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are all named after snakes. Bill drives a De Tomaso Mangusta. "Mangusta" is Italian for "Mongoose" which are well-known for their ability to fight and kill venomous snakes, particularly cobras.
During filming, actors often provided a "Hello, Sally!" take. This involves the actor finishing his or her take, turning to face the camera, and yelling "Hello, Sally!". Whether editor Sally Menke appreciates this is yet to be reported.
The original trailer for this film, although featuring no actual bloodshed, raised the ire of the MPAA with the sight of The Bride's blood-stained clothes. As such it became the first to be subjected to the MPAA's new "no blood" policy for trailers, in which all sight of the bodily fluid must be alternately colored or removed entirely. This is why the trailers for this film (and similarly for every film released in the US thereafter) feature The Bride's clothes covered in blackish-brown stains where the blood would be.
The original script featured the Bill character to be a master chemist. The liquid in the syringe was pointed out to be a concoction created by Bill entitled "Goodbye Forever". These potions/elixirs were to be detailed by on-screen subtitles. The Bride would also use a mix called "The Undisputed Truth" to get information from Sofie Fatale. In Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004), Bill would use "The Undisputed Truth" on the Bride.
Originally, Quentin Tarantino wanted Michael Madsen to play Johnny Mo (Mr. Barrel in the original script). However, he decided that Madsen would be better as Bill's brother, so he had Madsen play Budd instead.
During the scene when O-Ren Ishii celebrates her ascension to the head of the Tokyo Yakuza, she is wearing a black kimono. It is a kurotomesode with long sleeves (dangling near the floor). The kurotomesode is the most formal kimono, is for married women only, and would only be made with short sleeves.
Daryl Hannah's character is called "Elle Driver." The production team for the documentary Full Tilt Boogie (1997), a documentary about the production of From Dusk Till Dawn (1996) (which starred Quentin Tarantino), is also called " L. Driver Productions".
Sofie Fatale's cell phone ring is "Auld Lang Syne", specifically the tune for the line, "Should old acquaintance be forgot". However, the tune is also a popular tradition in Japan where it is known as "Hotaru no Hikari". This version contains totally different lyrics and is commonly associated with graduation ceremonies.
In Hattori Hanzo's sushi restaurant, there is a 4-character Chinese saying hanging above the bar. It says "zui sheng meng si," literally "drunk birth, dream death." A rough meaningful translation is "To lead an unimportant and often dissipated life."
In the original script, Johnny Mo was called Mr. Barrel. He had a Kato mask on a stick, like someone from a 17th Century costume ball. Mr. Barrel didn't like the rubber bands on the typical Kato masks because they 'fucked up his hair'. The Bride convinces him not to fight her, and he walks away, leaving O-Ren with no bodyguards.
The license plate for Buck's truck is a Texas plate that reads PSY WGN. When the movie is shown on network television, and the name of the truck is edited to "Party Wagon", the license plate remains the same.
The characters streaming down the left side of the screen in the opening scenes are Japanese kanji and hiragana, and they read "Hana yome ga kuru, hana yome ga kuru." Or: "The Bride is coming, the Bride is coming," over and over again.
The music sampled for "Ode to O-Ren Ishii" is the title track from the film The Psychic (1977). Since an instrumental version is not included on the soundtrack, it has become an increasingly popular download.
The name Hattori Hanzo was borne by four ninjas in feudal Japan but the most famous was born in the mid-16th century. As well as being an excellent strategist and a master of the spear, he and his ninja were instrumental in ushering in the Tokugawa Period of Japanese history (1603-1868).
[Red Apple cigarettes]
When the Bride arrives at the Tokyo airport, she walks in front of a Red Apple Cigarettes advertisement. Red Apple is a "Tarantino brand," one of several fictional products that are often seen in his films. Julie Dreyfus (Sofie Fatale) is the Red Apple model.
After the Bride leaves O-Ren's door at the House of Blue Leaves (when Go-Go returns inside) the camera follows her down the stairs through the bar, past the kitchen, into the ladies room; we then go out of the ladies' room, back to the stairs and follow Sofie Fatale along the exact same path to the ladies' room, ending with the ring of her cellphone. The shot is done in a single, unedited take.
Lucy Liu is barefoot as she runs to kill Boss Tanaka. The band at the House of Blue Leaves is barefoot. The Bride is barefoot as she escapes from the hospital and tries to regain control of her legs.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The line that O-Ren and The Bride speak together in the House of Blue Leaves - "Silly rabbit / Trix are for kids" - refers to an advertising slogan for breakfast cereal. It is also a cryptic reference to The Bride's name, which in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004) is revealed to be Beatrix Kiddo.
The character Gogo was originally written as two characters: the twin Yubari sisters, Gogo and Yuki. Gogo had almost no lines and after her death at the hands of The Bride, Yuki would seek her out, only to be killed as well, in the "lost" chapter "Yuki's Revenge". All of Gogo's dialogue in the final film would have been spoken by Yuki.
In the early stages of filming, O-Ren was supposed to be decapitated at the end of her battle with the Bride, but it was changed because she would have never known that the Bride's sword was truly a Hanzo sword had she been beheaded.
Julie Dreyfus speaks three different languages in the movie. She speaks fluent Japanese until the end where she speaks in her native French to insult the Bride (Uma Thurman) and then in clear English when she talks to Bill. In real life, Julie Dreyfus is trilingual.
Quentin Tarantino and producer Harvey Weinstein have been quoted as saying that Kill Bill was separated into two parts well into production. By splitting the movie into two parts, the film's advertising tagline, "In 2003, Uma Thurman Will Kill Bill!" was made false.
When The Bride is standing outside Vernita Green's house, an ice cream truck jingle is played. It's "Music Box Dancer" by the Canadian pianist Frank Mills, a 1978 hit single. In the original script, Yuki Yubari (attempting to avenge the death of her sister, Gogo) stalked The Bride in an ice cream truck.
A major spoiler was given when The Bride is in the "Pussy Wagon" with her list. When she is crossing off the name "Vernita Green", right above it you can see the name "O-Ren Ishii" that is also crossed off indicating that O-Ren was killed before Vernita even though O-Ren isn't killed until the climax of the film.