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 five minutes." It is exactly four minutes and fifty-nine seconds from the time she steps forward, and the music cues, until the fatal blow of the duel. From the time she says "five minutes" until the fatal blow, it is precisely five minutes and thirty seconds.
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.
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.
The black-and-white photography in the Crazy 88 fight scene is known as a homage to '70s and '80s U.S. television airings of kung fu movies. Black and white (as well as black and red) was 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 used the old trick for its intended purpose as well as an homage.
The island of Okinawa is widely regarded among the Japanese as the single worst place in all of Japan to get decent sushi, so Tarantino's decision to have Hanzo operate a sushi restaurant in Okinawa was an excellent decision, since it permitted Hanzo to leave his former life behind, and not be bothered by those who tried to seek him out, after having taken his blood oath.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (long take): 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.
During filming, actors and actresses often provided a "Hello, Sally!" take. This involves the actor or actress 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.
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.
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (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.
The church scene was shot in the Mojave Desert outside of Lancaster, California. Keep an eye out during this scene for cameos by Samuel L. Jackson as the dead organ player and Bo Svenson as the preacher.
Quentin Tarantino, in his conversation with Indian Director Anurag Kashyap, admitted that the celebrated manga animation-action sequence in Kill Bill was inspired from the Hindi-Tamil film, Aalavandhan (2001) starring Kamal Haasan. Tarantino was quoted saying 'Yes, saw this Indian serial killer film which showed violence as animated'.
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 U.S. thereafter) feature The Bride's clothes covered in blackish-brown stains where the blood would be. Incidentally, the color of dried blood is blackish-brown, which means that the MPAA unknowingly made Tarantino change the color from fresh blood (red) to that of dried blood.
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.
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.
The characters streaming down the left side of the screen in the opening scenes are Japanese kanji and hiragana. They read "Hana yome ga kuru, hana yome ga kuru" ("The Bride is coming, the Bride is coming") over and over again.
On the The Making of 'Kill Bill' (2003), Tarantino noted that the split-screen scene, where Elle (Daryl Hannah) is about to enter The Bride's (Uma Thurman's) room and kill her, was an homage to Brian De Palma.
Quentin Tarantino had intended for three actors of different nationalities to represent their respective countries. Chia-Hui Liu represents China, Shin'ichi "Sonny" Chiba represents Japan, and David Carradine represents the United States. Tarantino said that had Bruce Lee had still been alive, he'd have been asked to appear in Kill Bill as well.
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.
Gogo Yubari is not a real Japanese name. "Gogo" derives from Mach Go Go Go (a.k.a. Speed Racer), a Japanese animé 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 name Hattori Hanzo was borne by four ninjas in feudal Japan but the most famous was born in the mid sixteenth 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).
In Hattori Hanzo's sushi restaurant, there is a four-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."
DIRECTOR TRADEMARK (Quentin Tarantino): (bare feet): 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. Uma Thurman's bare feet were introduced in Pulp Fiction (1994) before her face is shown.
In the original script, Johnny Mo was called Mr. Barrel. He had a Kato mask on a stick, like someone from a seventeenth 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.
Sofie Fatale's (Julie Dreyfus') cell phone ring is "Auld Lang Syne", specifically the tune for the line, "Should auld acquaintance be forgot". However, the tune is also a popular tradition in Japan, where it is known as "Hotaru no Hikari". This version contains completely different lyrics, and is commonly associated with graduation ceremonies.
The original script featured Bill to be a master chemist. The liquid in the syringe was pointed out to be a concoction created by Bill, dubbed "Goodbye Forever". These potions and 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.
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 called "L. Driver Productions".
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.
In an interview, Quentin Tarantino stated that the Raquel Welch western Hannie Caulder (1971) is one of his influences behind the film. In that film, Hannie Caulder becomes a vengeful gunwoman after her husband is murdered, and when she is raped by the three outlaws responsible. In this film, The Bride (Thurman) seeks vengeance upon Bill, and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, after they wronged her at her wedding, in which her husband-to-be, and the wedding guests, were slain, and The Bride was raped by Buck, while in her coma.
There has been speculation among fans of the film that the reason behind Hanzo's blood oath to never "make something that kills" again, was a direct result of being deceived by Bill. While under Hanzo's training, Bill convinced him to craft swords for several of the DiVAS (namely himself, Budd, and O-Ren), under the guise of presents or some other innocent excuse, when the swords were in fact to be used as part of the group's arsenal of weapons to assassinate people for hire. When Hanzo discovered Bill's true motivations, he was so disgusted and scandalized by this, Hanzo fled to Okinawa and swore the blood oath, only making the sword for The Bride as a way of evening the scales and atoning for having his creations used by those who would assassinate people for money.
Although the siren sound heard before The Bride goes on a rampage is credited to Quincy Jones' theme from the television show Ironside (1967), it is more of an homage to the Shaw Brothers' kung-fu classic Five Fingers of Death (1972) (a.k.a. King Boxer). The U.S. release of Five Fingers of Death (1972) used the siren from the Ironside (1967) theme whenever its protagonist went on a vengeful rampage.
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, also used in the Nickelodeon television series Pinwheel (1977). In the original script, Yuki Yubari (attempting to avenge the death of her sister, Gogo) stalked The Bride in an ice cream truck.
The members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are all named for snakes: Sidewinder, Black Mamba, Cottonmouth, Copperhead, and California Mountain (King) snake. Of the five, only the kingsnake is non-venomous.
The line "My name's Buck, and I'm here to fuck." was taken from the opening line in Tobe Hooper's horror/exploitation film Eaten Alive (1976). Robert Englund's character says "The name's Buck, and I'm rarin' to fuck."
As Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) arrives at the Two Pines crime scene, there are several shades of sunglasses side-by-side on the dashboard of his car. Tarantino is paying homage to the H.B. Halicki car chase classics Gone in 60 Seconds (1974) and The Junkman (1982) where star/director Halicki also placed sunglasses next to each other on the dashboard of cars he drove.
The idea for Kill Bill could have been inspired by The Bride Wore Black (1968). The storyline is about a woman who takes vengeance on five men who shoot to kill (accidentally) her husband just after the wedding ceremony. The killing occurs at a church and the woman makes a list once she knows the names of the men involved.
Xena: Warrior Princess (1995) has been speculated as one of Quentin Tarantino's inspirations behind the film. Quentin Tarantino admitted in an interview that he is a Xena fan. He praised the show for its action, storytelling, and the magnificence of Xena's backstory.
The blurry lights scene transition is the same as was used in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964), which would also explain the title card for Chapter 4 "The MAN from Okinawa". If you listen really close, you can even hear the drum background used in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964), which would suggest that Writer and Director Quentin Tarantino either went to a great deal of trouble to duplicate it, or just borrowed it from an actual The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1964) episode.
While O-Ren Ishii's age is never mentioned, we can gather that she is either twenty-nine or thirty, since The Bride states that she was twenty-five when she took her part in trying to kill her, and it is four years later.
When The Bride's sword gets stuck in one of the Crazy 88, the same music plays as when Major Hellstrom arrives outside Shosanna's movie theater in Inglourious Basterds (2009). The music appears to suggest impending danger.
The Bride's killing one of the Crazy 88 with a hatchet is a possible nod to Mannaja (1977), in which the main protagonist Blade (Maurizio Merli), a bounty hunter whose weapon of choice is a hatchet, seeks revenge upon McGowan for the death of his father.
Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox were both in the critically panned DC movie, Batman & Robin (1997) six years earlier both interact with Arnold Schwarzenegger (Mr. Freeze) in that film, ambroisa Kelley was born when Batman Forever (1995) came out.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
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.
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 soles of her shoes read "Fuck U".
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, and then in clear English when she talks to Bill. In real-life, Julie Dreyfus is trilingual.
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 Trix 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.
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.
The final fight scene in Django Unchained (2012), in which Django (Jaime Foxx) tells Steven (Samuel L. Jackson) to stay right where he is mirrors the scene in which The Bride tells Sophie Fatale to stay right where she is in the aftermath of the sword battle with the Crazy 88.
The character of Pai Mei is first referenced in Shaolin Martial Arts (1974). He later appears, if not necessarily using the same name, in several other Shaolin-related Gordon Liu films directed by Chia-Liang Liu, his adopted brother, and director of many of his early films, as well as many other acclaimed martial arts films. Numerous martial arts techniques in this film, were first seen on-screen in the same film, such as the "hand span punch", and the strike used in Vol. 2, to pluck out an eye.
The scene in which The Bride (Uma Thurman) kills Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), and the "I'll be waiting" speech she makes to Nikki (Ambrosia Kelley), mirrors a similar scene from another revenge film, The Punisher (1989). In a similar scene from that film, Frank Castle (Dolph Lundgren) says to Tommy Franco, "Because if you don't... I'll be waiting", when he kills his father Gianni (Jeroen Krabbe).