- Kill Bill sacrifices realism for stylized action, capturing the over-the-top homage to Tarantino’s favorite childhood movies.
- The sword fight in the Crazy 88 scene may lack believability and realistic technique, but it still delivers impressive and thrilling action.
- Tarantino intentionally creates a heightened experience, paying tribute to unrealistic revenge movies while embracing the visual style that enthralled him as a youth.
A weapons expert picks apart the Crazy 88 sword fight sequence from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Inspired by the classic martial arts and revenge movies he soaked up in his youth, Tarantino’s fourth film delivers action galore as it charts the exploits of an assassin (Uma Thurman) on a quest for bloody vengeance against her former colleagues. The film is stuffed with memorable, beautifully-staged set pieces, but no sequence is more spectacular than the extended sword battle between The Bride and a crew of killers known as the Crazy 88.
Though the action choreography and visual wizardly on display in the Crazy 88 scene is impressive, the sword fighting technique is not exactly good, at least according to one expert. In a video piece for Insider, sword master David Rawlings gives low marks to Tarantino’s film, blasting The Bride’s blade work as unrealistic. Overall, Rawlings rates the sequence as 2-out-of-10 on the believability scale. Check out what he had to say in the space below: (around 34:08 of the clip):
Yep she’s dead now. You’re really looking at just absolute theater here, and that’s fine…but it’s terrible, terrible sword fighting. This idea of driving people apart to fight…you don’t want to be standing still, you don’t want big people to be managing the space while your space is getting more and more cramped.
Interesting tactical decisions here. So you have a point where somebody has control of the blade and if you think like a parrying dagger you have options to take the blade of the opponent on your dagger, or to take them on your sword, and to attack them with the other, but in order to do so you’d want to maintain that contact. So to do an action like this with the opponent’s blade still directly in the middle doesn’t make any sense. So you had a point of control, or a point of control, both of those have been sacrificed. It’s amazing that one of these people didn’t die in the process of this. They should have either been disemboweling or a stab or whichever, or the other person should have plowed straight through the middle in the space. From the point of view of a good, cohesive fight scene that involves realistic technique I’m going to give that two.
Kill Bill Sacrifices Realism In The Name Of Stylized Action
Influenced by everything from Asian martial arts films to Spaghetti Westerns to Grindhouse exploitation movies, Kill Bill sees Tarantino cranking the visual style all the way up, crafting an over-the-top homage to the movies that thrilled him as a kid. Though sword-master Rawlings is unimpressed by the fighting technique displayed in the movie’s biggest and bloodiest set piece, the action is undeniably impressive, allowing the viewer to experience some of the thrill a young Tarantino felt as he soaked up the low-budget action movies of the 1970s.
The movies that inspired Kill Bill were of course themselves not always particularly realistic, as they unleashed their tales of revenge set everywhere from feudal Japan to the Old West to the streets of America’s modern-day cities. Tarantino could have scaled things down and tried to visualize a more realistic sword fight between The Bride and her opponents, but that would have defeated his purpose of creating a deliberately heightened experience that plays like a bloody tall tale, while paying tribute to the even-more-ridiculous films that inspired him.