Director Quentin Tarantino is a master of homages, references, and genre mixing. His characters are carefully and explicitly named, so it is no surprise that the sword-making character introduced in Kill Bill Vol. 1, Hattori Hanzō, might have more significance than meets the eye. Keep reading to explore the back-story within this classic Tarantino film.
The Power Behind A Blade
Over 450 gallons of fake blood were used while filming Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. Still, the most powerful aspect of the film, the iconic image left with the viewer, is not that of blood and gore but of the weaponry. Whether the Vol. 1 fight scenes were shot in regular color, black-and-white, anime, or by silhouette, nothing is more celebrated than the katana.
Our film’s protagonist, The Bride, seeks vengeance on the five who left her in a coma after wiping out her bridal party and very nearly killing her. To help in her mission, The Bride seeks out the master katana sword maker Hattori Hanzō and asks for a special blade. Though he vowed 28 years prior to no longer make instruments of death, he eventually agrees to craft one especially for The Bride’s pursuit. Throughout the films, the Hanzō sword is immediately recognized, feared, and revered.
Who Was Hattori Hanzō?
In real life, Hanzō was a 16th-century samurai warrior and ninja. He was known for fearlessness, loyalty in battle, and advanced tactical skills. In addition, many sources agree that he saved the life of future political leader Tokugawa Ieyasu in 1582. In 1600, Tokugawa would lead his troops into battle, kicking off a three-year struggle across the nation that ended in his favor. Upon taking power, Tokugawa and the leaders to follow kept Japan at peace for over 250 years. Without Hanzō’s actions in 1582, centuries of Japan’s history could be completely different.
Thanks to his high-profiled career as a samurai, ninja, and historical figure, Hanzō is often portrayed in pop culture. The story of his life and events with Tokugawa has been turned into television shows and movies, but his name has also been used in dozens of other places as homage. A character named Hattori Hanzō is featured in novels, manga, anime, and multiple video games. Whether used as a tribute title or “familiar face” (so to speak), Hanzō is certainly being well represented. According to Tarantino, his Kill Bill character is actually a current, modern-day descendent: Hattori Hanzō XIV.
Hanzō’s actor in Kill Bill, Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba, previously portrayed the real-life Hanzō in a historical account of his life. As a bonus tidbit, Chiba creates katana swords of his own. None of these swords were used in the film, but approximately $60,000 of the movie’s budget was spent on swords and accessories.
Owning a Replica Sword
The Bride’s blade is iconic on its own, and replica Kill Bill swords continue to grow in popularity. Swords of The East offers miniature and full-size replicas of both Bill and The Bride’s swords. The sword stands for recovery, self-discovery, vengeance, and so much more, so consider displaying one as homage to this incredible film.
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Of course things could have been a lot worse, but we got a nasty surprise when we got back from the Coast Sunday afternoon. We went to Cape Hatteras for four days, did some surf fishing and a lot of laying about on the beach. We knew it had rained really hard back at the house, a friend of mine from the neighborhood sent me a text about it flooding in the area. He was saying that I might need the wet basement guys, the ones who clean up after you have a mess from flood or fire damage. Indeed when we got back we found about a half inch of water in the basement, but it was mostly on the side of the basement where we have the shop. The situation could have been a lot worse than it was, because we do not have rugs or carpets down there much.
On the one side is my shop.
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