China Film
14 September 2020

‘Kill Bill’ at the Beijing Film Studio

In 2002, Quentin Tarantino filmed parts of Kill Bill at the historic Beijing Film Studio. The House of Blue Leaves, where Beatrix “The Bride” Kiddo (Uma Thurman) has a blood-splattering showdown with the Crazy 88, was constructed on a soundstage here. But the only scene to use exterior sets on the studio’s back lot was cut from the final edit. In this now infamous scene, Michael Jai White (with fake New Zealand accent) and his gang confront Bill (David Carradine) while he is out for a casual stroll with his disciple. Bill begrudgingly accepts the challenge while Kiddo watches from a doorway off to the side. Fortunately, the deleted scene was made available online and as a DVD extra.

The Beijing Film Studio was created in 1949 as one of the primary state-run film production facilities. The studio was responsible for classic films such as New Year’s Sacrifice (1956) and Song of Youth (1959). Later, the studio constructed a traditional Chinese streetscape on a backlot near the university district in Beijing, reportedly used for 1982 films Rickshaw Boy and Teahouse. Chen Kaige’s Farewell My Concubine (1993) also made use of the backlot, filming on the same set that would later be used for the deleted scene from Kill Bill.

The Beijing Film Studio was the first mainland Chinese production site to open up to international co-productions with Bernardo Bertolucci’s The Last Emperor in 1987. And Kill Bill was to be one of the last large scale productions made there before the site closed. The studio lot is now abandoned and the remaining warehouses and set decorations are slated for demolition. Operations of the Beijing Film Studio, now part of the China Film Group, have moved outside the city to Huairou.


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