Kill Bill's Elle Driver Fight Was Unfinished Until Quentin Tarantino Saw Jackass

Although "Volume 2" is the gentler, more thoughtful installment of the "Kill Bill" saga, you wouldn't know that from the fight scene between Beatrix (Uma Thurman) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah). Although there is some begrudging respect between them, Beatrix and Elle hate each other more than perhaps any other two members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and that's reflected in their final showdown in Budd's cramped trailer. It's a vicious, bloody fight: Beatrix shoves Elle's head in a toilet at one point, throws a tobacco spit jar in her face, and then she yanks out Elle's one remaining eye.

It's a stark contrast from Beatrix's battle against O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) in the first volume. There, O-Ren trash-talks her a little in the beginning, but as their fight goes on it gets increasingly respectful. "For ridiculing you earlier, I apologize," O-Ren says near the end of the fight, and Beatrix accepts her apology before they continue. Meanwhile, the last thing Beatrix says to Elle here is "B****, you don't have a future." Whereas O-Ren gets a swift, dignified death, Beatrix decides to leave Elle blind and writhing on the floor, trapped in the trailer with a venomous snake and no one around for miles to help.

Beatrix and Elle's final battle is as intentionally trashy as things ever get in the "Kill Bill" saga, which is why it's not completely surprising that Tarantino turned to "Jackass" for inspiration when making the scene. "It was always brutal, but it wasn't ever gross," Tarantino told IGN about it in a 2003 interview. "And then, I saw 'Jackass' and I saw what I'd been missing."

Getting as gross as possible

"Jackass" is a show about a bunch of guys who perform absurdly dangerous and often disgusting stunts, encouraging the audience to take pleasure at their self-inflicted pain. The people on this show will give themselves paper cuts on the webbing between their fingers, or they'll lock themselves in a port-a-potty that's hooked up to two cranes with bungie cords. More than anything, "Jackass" is designed to make you wince, just like Elle and Beatrix's fight in the trailer. Although nobody on "Jackass" gets their eye ripped out, stuff like toilet swirlies and getting already-chewed tobacco thrown in your face is always in the realm of possibility.

"There's a character that lives in this trailer that dips snuff," Tarantino explained. "In the South, old women and guys would have coffee cans, and you'd spit the snuff in the coffee can. At some point, Uma grabs the snuff coffee can and throws it in Daryl's face, and now she has to fight with all of this crap on her."

This is one of the few moments in the scene where both characters pause. Even though they both casually suffer injuries throughout this fight that would ruin a regular person's whole month, it's only as Elle wipes the snuff off her face that she briefly seems to wonder if any of this is really worth it. "Gross," she says, but a few seconds later the fight's back on.

Tarantino didn't tell the crew about the "Jackass" inspiration until a few days after filming the scene: "I got a print of 'Jackass' and I screened it for the whole crew," he said. "Daryl is watching it and she goes, 'That's where the snuff juice came from! Oh my God!'"

A cruel end to a cruel character

Elle meets perhaps the meanest death of any character in this saga, which makes sense considering she's one of most openly evil and sadistic of Beatrix's enemies. The depths of her evil is revealed in the final exchange between her and Beatrix, where she reveals that she killed Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), Beatrix's tough-but-effective master. Realistically, it's not that terrible; Pai Mei was a jerk and he did yank out her eye without much provocation, so it's hard to blame her too much for wanting revenge. But the movie itself plays this moment as an unforgivable sin, one that makes her uniquely evil even within a world of cold-blooded assassins. 

It helps that Daryl Hannah goes full cackling villain in this moment, further justifying her character's grisly demise. "That's right, I killed your master," she gloats, "and now I'm gonna kill you, with your own sword no less." As she says this the camera zooms in on her face, panning closer and closer to the eye that will soon be taken away from her. 

Like with "Jackass," the thing that stops the gross-out violence in "Kill Bill" from feeling too mean-spirited is the fact that the people suffering the most are the ones who willingly bring it upon themselves. Just as its okay to laugh at the guys at "Jackass" as they get their face bitten by snakes (because we know that if they wanted to walk away, they could), "Kill Bill" gives us full permission to revel in Beatrix's revenge against her one-eyed foe. As Elle gives her evil monologue to Beatrix, the movie's making it clear that whatever happens next, no matter how dark, it's now fair game.