Even if you’ve seen the second half of Quentin Tarantino’s revenge epic, these little nuggets will give you a reason to give it another look.
1. Pulp Fiction spawned the idea.
Uma Thurman and Tarantino came up with the character of The Bride while working on the set of Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction. Tarantino mentioned he was interested in doing a revenge movie or a 1970s kung-fu movie, and Thurman envisioned a character left for dead on her wedding day like the scene that opens Kill Bill Vol. 2.
2. The volumes have distinct influences.
The Kill Bill saga was originally supposed to be a single four-hour epic before it was split into two films. Tarantino made the split by having the first film reflect “Eastern” cinematic influences like the kung fu genre, while the second film reflects “Western” influences such as the Spaghetti Western genre.
3. Warren Beatty was Tarantino’s first choice for Bill.
When Tarantino let the actor go because of creative differences, he cast David Carradine in the iconic role because Carradine previously appeared in Tarantino’s favorite childhood TV show, Kung Fu.
4. Samuel L. Jackson makes a sneaky cameo.
He briefly appears as Rufus, the wedding piano player.
5. Kill Bill Vol. 2 was not as violent as you might think.
Only three people are killed onscreen in the entire second movie.
6. Pai Mei pulled double duty.
Actor Gordon Liu plays Pai Mei in Vol. 2, but he also appeared as Johnny Mo, the leader of the Crazy 88, in Kill Bill Vol. 1. Liu was cast in the Kill Bill saga because he previously appeared in a kung fu movie called The 36th Chamber of Shaolin that heavily influenced Tarantino while writing Kill Bill.
7. Tarantino originally wanted to dub his own voice for Pai Mei.
The voice would celebrate the poorly dubbed kung fu movies he loves.
8. Pai Mei appeared in previous kung fu films.
The Pai Mei character had shown up in many previous kung fu movies such as Executioners from Shaolin and Clan of the White Lotus (both starring Gordon Liu). The character and his trademark bushy eyebrows were based on a legendary real life kung fu master known as Bak Mei, which means “White Eyebrows” in Cantonese.
9. The Bride borrowed her finishing move from another film.
The Bride’s “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique” also appears in the Shaw Brothers’ films Executioners from Shaolin and Clan of the White Lotus, which were primary inspirations behind the Kill Bill saga.
10. There are subtle tributes to Charles Bronson and Elmore Leonard.
The poster on the wall of Budd’s trailer is for a movie called Mr. Majestyk, starring Charles Bronson and written by Elmore Leonard. Most of Tarantino’s movies contain numerous references to Bronson, while Tarantino adapted Leonard’s novel “Rum Punch” into his 1997 film, Jackie Brown.
11. Bill’s flute was Carradine’s idea.
Tarantino added the flute that Bill carries with him to the script after Carradine brought it with him to fight rehearsals during the movie’s pre-production. Carradine, who was also a musician, made the flute himself on the set of Kung Fu in the 1970s.
12. Michael Parks also wore two hats.
Parks portrays two separate characters in the Kill Bill saga. He plays Bill’s mentor Esteban Vihaio in Vol. 2 and also played Texas Ranger Earl McGraw in Vol. 1. Parks first played the McGraw character in the film From Dusk Till Dawn, which was directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by and starred Tarantino, and later also played McGraw in Planet Terror and Death Proof directed by Rodriguez and Tarantino respectively.
13. Ricardo Montalban lost his part.
The part of Esteban was originally supposed to be played by Montalban. When Montalban couldn’t make the first table reading of the script, Tarantino had Parks stand in and liked his take so much that he gave him the role in the final film.
14. Robert Rodriguez gave Tarantino a deal on the score.
Fellow director and Tarantino’s best friend Rodriguez wrote the score for Kill Bill Vol. 2 for free and began writing the music before any of the movie was shot. Rodriguez’s band Chingon also performs the song “Malagueña Salerosa” over the closing credits.
15. Of course there’s a movie reference in the climactic scene.
The Western playing on the TV when The Bride confronts Bill is called The Golden Stallion, starring Roy Rogers.