Paying tribute to the Shaw Brothers Studio of Hong Kong cinema fame, “Kill Bill: Volume 1” opens with the legendary Shawscope logo. The Shaw Brothers’ 1978 film, “Five Deadly Venoms,” is an unmistakable influence on the five members of Quentin Tarantino’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. In the film, the dying master (Dick Wei) of Venom House sends his last pupil, Yang Tieh (Chiang Sheng), to track down five former students and dispatch them if they are using what they learned under their master’s tutelage for evil. These five students fight in different styles, taking the names of each style for themselves: Centipede, Lizard, Scorpion, Snake, and Toad.
The parallels between the Five Venoms and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are obvious. Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) is Copperhead. She specializes in knives. Elle Driver, aka California Mountain Snake, has an affinity for poisoning her victims. The Bride’s alias is Black Mamba, and her weapon of choice is the katana. Budd (Michael Madsen) is Sidewinder, which is appropriate for his fondness for sneak attacks. Lying in wait for the Bride with a shotgun loaded with rock salt and burying her alive while she’s bound and unable to fight back are examples of his trademark underhanded tactics. O-Ren is Cottonmouth. She also fights with a katana, but she’s not quite as deadly as the infamous Black Mamba. These five assassins, led by Bill (David Carradine), or Snake Charmer, each have their distinct fighting styles and corresponding codenames, just like the Five Venoms.