I get the feeling I’m digging myself a grave here.
See, Quentin Tarantino is one of those untouchables of the movie industry. His works are known for controversial content, sure, but his fan-base is a particularly rabid bunch who will die defending his works. So it goes with all fandoms, the common retort that gets thrown back in critics’ faces (beyond “die in a blaze of fiery rape, you shit vacuum“) is that they “don’t get it.” This is particularly the case here, because Tarantino’s films often draw from pre-existing cinematic subgenres, their narratives based around tropes and concepts from the best and worst of their ilk in order to make a single movie.
So here’s my problem: I do get it. In my boredom, I’ve often browsed through the internet for examples of different kinds of cinema and literature and their big representatives. As such, especially in the case of Kill Bill, I’m so familiar with the material that I can’t help but sit there and tally up which scenes are from which movies. In that respect, Kill Bill isn’t a movie but a scrapbook.
That bothers me. It bothers me because I could have enjoyed Kill Bill quite a bit. I love homage films, but I feel that there are better works out there. In fact, the big difference between Kill Bill and works like Black Dynamite and Hobo With A Shotgun is the fact that you can’t see the strings, as it were. You know what kind of movies they’re referring to, but you don’t necessarily have to have seen those movies to know what they’re all about.
But what if I did Kill Bill the way I wanted to? What’s my vision of Kill Bill?
First thing’s first: this is one film. Don’t argue.
Secondly, I’m switching up the DVAS’ codenames and making Bud into two characters for reasons I’m going into soon, so try to keep up. On a side note, they’ll just be known as the Deadly Viper Assassins, because it’s less lofty.
Thirdly, we should focus entirely on the idea of this being an homage to action films and make it a mash-up between HK noir and Westerns, putting chanbara and I Spit On Your Grave a thousand miles away from this one.
Now let’s get into it.
Our cold open’s going to be roughly the same as the movie, but there’s going to be a bit more meat to it. We zoom in towards the heavily-pregnant Beatrix Santana’s (Kiddo is just a nickname here) prone and bloodied body in the middle of the church. The priest is dead. People in the pews lie in shreds. A man in a suit clutches the wound at his neck and expires as five shadowy figures approach Beatrix’s body. The bloody bride spits a gob of red at the man who stoops over her body, asks if he’s satisfied in taking everything from her. A laugh; the man leans in and pats Beatrix on the stomach, whispering the words “Not everything. Not yet.” Fade to black. TITLES.
Beatrix wakes up from a coma nine years later, finding herself in the middle of a hospital bed with Ellie Driver, AKA Cobra, watching over her. Beatrix flips her shit and tries to bust out of her bonds, but she’s too weak. Driver starts the exposition. We learn about Bill Parker and his brother Budd, two con-men who made their way up in the world by becoming crime lords. At the height of their power, Bill Parker put together his own personal hit-squad called the DVAs from the world’s finest serial killers, assassins, and criminal geniuses to serve beside him. The DVAs were not only his serfs, but also his lovers (much to Budd’s displeasure).
Beatrix recalls the wedding. She remembers meeting a man on a mission, a young street gangster who stole Beatrix’s heart and got her pregnant. Then, she remembers Bill “giving her away” at the wedding before the other DVAs burst in and killed everyone. Ellie apologizes for her involvement, saying that she was acting under orders from the Parker brothers, and also apologizes as she explains that Bill took the baby from Beatrix in the aftermath of the attack. Furious, Beatrix vows to have them all killed if she ever gets out – to which Ellie obliges, undoing her bonds. Ellie explains that she was charged with disposing of Beatrix’s body but kept her alive in secret, feeling guilty for what she had done to her former comrade. Over the years, she’s grown distant from Bill and the DVAs, and offers Beatrix a chance to get her overdue revenge.
Ellie takes Beatrix out of the hospital, helping her recover and relearn her talents. After the montage, Ellie asks if Beatrix will want to retake her old codename, Adder. Beatrix, who is Mexican in this new version, recalls the coat of arms of Mexico City, and decides to rename herself: “Eagle.” Driver, pleased, passes Beatrix her old weapons of choice, the katana Zangetsu and the handguns Romeo and Juliet.
They set off to track down the other DVAs, starting with ex-yakuza boss O-Ren Ishii and the former extortionist Vernita Greene, AKA Habu and Copperhead respectively. Habu and Copperhead have been running a massive casino together, which Ellie and Beatrix discover after shaking down some of their henchmen.
On the scene, Beatrix cuts through the lobby. Ellie provides support from the shadows, and we get a nice mix of swordplay and gunplay as Beatrix fights her way to the top (because I’ll be damned if we don’t get some John Woo-style shots in here). Copperhead heads for the helicopter on the roof of the building, and Habu urges her on, saying that she will stay to face Beatrix head-on. Cue a big rooftop duel between Beatrix and Habu, ending with the ex-yakuza slashed to ribbons and thrown to the pavement. Ellie praises Beatrix and says they have to track Copperhead before she notifies the rest of Bill’s posse.
Jump ahead to Copperhead’s home, where she finds her husband and several men lying dead in the living room. Her daughter Nikki is nowhere to be seen. A note lies on the table, reading “BEATRIX SAYS HI,” leading Copperhead to think this is the Eagle’s work. She calls Bill just as Ellie and Beatrix show up on the scene. A big fight occurs between the three DVAs in the back lawn, which ends with Copperhead’s death (skewered with shears from the tool shed) and her realization that Beatrix isn’t the culprit. With her dying breath, she asks for Beatrix’s forgiveness and begs her to find Nikki.
Meanwhile, Bill and Budd are arguing in Bill’s new stronghold, a remodeled abandoned Buddhist temple in the middle of Arizona. Budd scolds Bill for being so callous with his affections, saying that his freed willy is causing him more harm than good and costing them good soldiers left and right. Waving off the concerns of his older brother, Bill calls in the last DVA on his side, Dolph Evans AKA Sidewinder, and tells him to come over to defend the base. Sidewinder and a legion of Bill’s men stand outside the temple and patrol the grounds, lying in wait for Beatrix and Ellie. However, the ex-DVAs get the jump on them and decapitate Sidewinder. They enter.
Fighting through more of Bill’s men, Ellie and Beatrix make their way to the centre of the room where Bill is waiting for them. With a snap of his fingers, two things happen – Ellie turns on Beatrix and knocks her down, and some of Bill’s guards bring out two little girls: Nikki and Beatrix’s daughter Phoebe. Bill explains that he kept Beatrix alive because he felt the other DVAs were going to be trouble in the future, and needed a back-up plan in case he needed to remove them. Ellie Driver (who in this version is the youngest DVA) has been secretly groomed to be Bill’s replacement this whole time, and that they will train up a new generation of Viper Assassins together.
Ellie prepares for the final blow when Beatrix fights back, and Bill sends Phoebe out to join the fray, because she had not only been recovered during the beginning of Beatrix’s coma but also trained to be a killer from birth. Beatrix fights viciously, leading Bill to join in when it seems his understudy and Adder’s replacement are unable to do the job. In the fight, Beatrix impales Ellie with Zangetsu, knocks out her daughter, and then beats Bill to death with the emptied guns Romeo and Juliet.
Budd comes in as Beatrix hoists up the unconscious Phoebe and collects Nikki from Bill’s men. Budd asks if she plans on leaving there alive after what she’s done. Beatrix, weary and wounded, leaves that in Budd’s hands. Surveying the death around him, Budd tells Bill’s (now his) men to clear a path for Beatrix and the girls, and our final shot is the three of them walking away from Bill’s compound, towards the setting sun.
See you next time,