Thursday, March 17, 2011

Kill Bill and Miltonic Allusion: Lone Wolf And Cub: Baby Cart at the River Styx

I continue my weekly look at movies that have influenced Kill Bill. It is my opinion that Tarantino positions his film in relation to these other films in canny ways.

[A samurai is attacked by three women and he quickly slashes at all three. When he puts the blade away they all three fall over dead. You can see it at 1:20 here ]

[Thurman faces off against three fighters at the House of the Blue Leaves. She strikes all three quickly and when she hits the hilt of her sword they all fall over dead. ]

[Samurai kills a guy getting his blood on the camera]

[Sophie Fatale's severed arm gets blood on the camera.]

Lone Wolf and Cub is a manga series as well as a series of movies about a disgraced samurai who used to be the Shogun's executioner. He was framed for treason and his pregnant wife murdered. But he was able to save the kid and now they travel together as he earns money as a freelance assassin, to eventually get revenge.

In the first clip above Lone Wolf is targeted for assassination by a clan of female assassins working for the guy who made it look like Lone Wolf was a traitor. In the second Lone Wolf carries out the assassination he was hired for.

Most of Baby Cary at the River Styx was used, along with some footage from Sword of Vengeance to make the American version Shogun Assassin. Shogun Assassin is the movie BB wants to watch with Thurman -- WAY to violent for a normal little girl as you can see. The intro from Shogun Assassin is also sampled at the beginning of Liquid Swords, the best of the Wu-Tang clan spin-offs, and one I think superior to Enter the Wu-Tang. Liquid Swords is produced by The RZA who did music for Kill Bill.

And of course Lone Wolf and Cub directly related to Kill Bill as it is about an assassin and child, which is what Thurman and BB are at the end. I have said that Master of the Flying Guillotine justifies Bill sequel as it features a blind killer and a one armed one, as Driver and Fatale are blind and one armed. Lone Wolf and Cub provides further justification for this point, as it features an assassin with a kid. And of course Tarantino has made the two males female as is his way.

The allusions in the clips above are both very arguable. As in Kill Bill three opponents are struck and then fall when the sword is hit (put back in the saber in Lone Wolf). Tarantino has reversed the genders of the characters involved, which is what he always does (and there are female Crazy 88s -- they are just not victims of this move).

Blood on the camera is not unique in cinema, but I grabbed it anyway, just because Lone Wolf and Cub obviously important to Kill Bill thematically.

If we do want to say this is an allusion, than it is a simple one -- part of that "establish that you have done your research thing" that is so pervasive in the House of the Blue Leaves.


Mikey said...

When I saw Shogun Assassin the "When cut across the neck a sound like whistling winter wind is heard...." speech towards the end freaked me the fuck out. And the synth score. And Liquid Swords.

And I was reading The Comics Journal and jeepers Tarantino/Pynchon. (Geoff, if I was writing this series I would totally have gone crazy before now. Well done in keeping focussed and keeping it brief - a real skill.)

Geoff Klock said...

Mikey -- Thanks. That link was totally interesting. And God Bless Liquid Swords

Mikey said...

I could talk about Liquid Swords all day. It's my favourite Wu-spin-off, although better than 36 Chambers? (It's better than Wu Forever, mind.) Cold World. My gosh.

Speaking of Wu connectivity, and on a different track - did you ever see Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai by Jarmusch? RZA on soundtrack and cameo duties, plus it's a riff on many many things which are also in Tarantino's wheelhouse (including Le Samourai, S. Suzuki, Leon). And it's a hilarious send to Scorcese's (now-irrelvant?) gangster tropes.

Geoff Klock said...

I have seen Ghost Dog, and I own the soundtrack too. It is a very good movie and it is very similar to Kill Bill, though it lacks Tarantino's verve.

Mikey said...

I think they are trying to do similar things but I wouldn't say it lacks the verve (or, rather, if it does that isn't neccessarily a bad thing). Different beasts. Ghost Dog's a calmer thing. Fabulistic maybe?

I know a looong while back people in the comments here were matching up comic book creators with their equivalent film directors. I was trying to do something similar in reverse with Tarantino and Jarmusch who would they be in comic book terms?

In the end I realised I am no good at this, but - if we can instead look at one of Jarmusch's own movies (Coffee & Cigarettes) - I would say Jarmusch is Tom Waits and Tarantino is Iggy Pop.

Mikey said...

Also - I saw in the Twitter stream that you went to The Burger Joint in NYC. That is one of my favourite places and is absolutely the best burger I have ever had in the whole wide world. What did you think?

Geoff Klock said...

Ghost Dog is calmer, and I agree that you can't say Tarantino's verve is better than Ghost Dog's calm. But I LIKE Kill Bill better that is for sure.

Burger Join was awesome. It is up there with Shake Shack.