TM: How about the quotation which went something like “if you want revenge, you have to be willing to kill God and even the Buddha”?
QT: That was actually paraphrased - I rewrote it, just like I did with the Bible in Pulp Fiction - from the speech of the Yagyu ninja that Sonny Chiba would repeat at the beginning of every episode of the Yagyu Family Conspiracy TV show. And at the end of the movie, when Uma is in her helmet giving that speech, that’s the theme from Yagyu Family Conspiracy playing in the background.
TM: Did you get any inspiration from Seijun Suzuki?
QT: It’s funnyÃ¢â‚¬Â¦I’m not inspired by his movies as a whole, but by certain shots and just his willingness to just completely experiment to try and get images that are really cool or psychedelic. I’m very inspired by that. To me, his filmsÃ¢â‚¬Â¦well, he’s a little bit like Russ Meyer for me. It’s easier to like sections of his films than the whole movie. I’m not putting him down, its just that I think he works better in sequences and scenes. And some movies work better than other movies. As for Russ Meyer, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a complete masterpiece. That was one where everything worked. Suzuki did that with Branded to Kill (1967, Japan) even though I do like the first half better than the second. When you bring up Suzuki, are you more or less thinking about the Kabuki fight in the House of Blue Leaves with the silhouettes?
QT: To me that was more something in my brain from Japanese cinema in general than Suzuki stuff in particular, but I do know what you are talking about. You’ll see it again in Volume 2 when The Bride is in her training session with Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), there a big silhouette sequence against a big giant red background. Every 15th movie in Hong Kong had an opening sequence where the characters were doing martial arts in front of a background. Sometimes you saw them, sometimes you didn’t. An usually the theme music from Isaac Hayes’ Shaft was playing!
TM: Here’s a very general question. Should I laugh at this movie, or not?
QT: I don’t think you should laugh AT it, I think you should laugh WITH it.
TM: Because I heard you laughing through the screening.
QT: I don’t hold a Japanese audience to the same rule that I would hold a black audience to. A black audience is like, “Ha ha ha ha!” You Japanese are a little more subdued when you watch a movie. Just because they’re not going “Ha ha ha ha!” when they’re watching it doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying it. I was having a good time because I was able to watch the audience without being intrusive. So I was smiling all the way. All my movies are funny, but I also wanted to go up and down, up and down. I want you to laugh, laugh, laugh, and then stop you laughing and show you something else. Maybe start you crying, and then get you laughing again. I want to just constantly keep moving. For me, if I’m watching a movie and I’m going from laughing to crying, that’s me having a good time. That’s when I know I’m seeing a movie. I’m being jerked around emotionally and it’s great.
TM: I guess I’m thinking specifically about the scene at the end of the duel with Lucy Liu.
QT: It’s supposed to be kind of amusing and poetic at the same time. And also just a teeny-tiny bit solemn. When you see her head, it’s funny. And then her line, “that really was a Hattori Hanzo sword.,” that’s funny. But then, the next shot is not funny, when she tips over and Meiko Kaji is singing about revenge on the soundtrack. So, it’s all together. Funny. Solemn. Beautiful. Gross. All at the same time.
TM: Do you think American audiences have this kind of taste?
QT: The thing is, for some people they’ll be seeing things they’ve never seen before. In Hong Kong, in China, in Japan, in Korea, they are going to have a context for where some of this stuff is coming from. Even when it comes to stuff like Macaroni Westerns (the Japanese name for Spaghetti Westerns). Most young people in America have never seen a Macaroni Western. That actually can be an extremely good thing! You know where these things are coming from, but it’s still kind of a new experience to see Kill Bill, right? Well, for them, imagine how new it is going to be.
TM: About the Ironside musical theme. That music is very popular in Japan. That theme was used on an “Inside Edition” style tabloid show.
QT: Here’s the thing. They use that theme in Five Fingers of Death (Chang Ho Cheng, 1973, Hong Kong *Bigger image) and every time, the screen glows red. You know it from this tabloid show, but when I was a kid, I knew it from Ironside.
So every time the screen would glow, people in the audience would bust up laughing because it was the Ironside theme. But at a certain point, they actually begin to like it better in the movie. By the third time they hear it, the audience is going “YEAH! KICK ASS LO LIEH!” I think it works great. And in Bill the third time you hear it, you know she’s going to kick ass! Uh .hey, can I ask you a question? Did you have a favorite scene in the film? Can I ask you what was it?
TM: I think the fight with Go Go Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama).
QT: That’s mine too. I’d never shot action before, and this was my chance to really do it, and that was my first action scene. That was how I learned to do it, on that one. And I think that my be, so far, my favorite thing I’ve ever shot. Just cinematically, director-wise, I think that might be the best thing I’ve done so far.
TM: During the fight, Go Go is kind of a Master of the Flying Guillotine.
QT: She definitely is. That was Chiaki doing most of that stuff. She spent three months learning how to mess with that ball. People ask me, “where did you get that ball from?” Actually, I didn’t really take it from any movie. I mean, I’ve seen Hong Kong movies where they swing things, but this one I kind of created. So people say, “what’s it called?” And I say, “the Go Go Ball!”
TM: Do you think Japanese audience will understand the line, “Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids?”
QT: Oh yeah, the Trix commercial. There’s all of these Japanese and Chinese things in the movie that I have no expectations that Americans will get at all and that’s one of the things that I don’t expect anyone outside the US to get. In my thought, that was a something O-Ren and The Bride used to say to each other when they were Deadly Vipers on a job. It was a private joke between the two of them.