Song of the Day: Kill Bill (by Brown Eyed Girls)

BEG Kill Bill

This is not the first time I’ve featured the K-Pop girl group Brown Eyed Girls. Their 2008 song, “Abracadabra,” was featured as a song of the day. It was really that song that first introduced me to K-Pop. While my interest didn’t skyrocket after that song, it did simmer for a few years before I was finally fully on-board.

The latest K-Pop Song of the Day is from B.E.G. and it’s their 2013 single release from their 5th studio album, Black Box. It’s a song titled “Kill Bill” and the song and accompanying music video is a homage to the 2003 Quentin Tarantino grindhouse mash-up. Even the music video literally lifts sequences and camera shots from the film.

Some have called this a loving tribute to the film of the same name which inspired the song. Others have called it a blatant rip-off. No matter which side one is on the song showcases the group’s ability to remain relevant in a music industry that either caters to the cute, bubblegum pop scene or to the overtly sexual (at times way too sexual) aesthetic.

B.E.G. continues to show that they can still bring a more mature visual that toes the line between the two extremes of cute and sexual. This is not to say that the song is just all about the visuals. “Kill Bill” is a catchy tune that  shows it’s Western-infused sound of acoustic guitars, bluesy electric guitar riffs and the ever-present whistling of past Spaghetti Western scores.

Music Video of the Day: Battle Without Honor or Humanity by Tomoyasu Hotei (2004, dir by ????)

I’m still feeling a little under the weather so I decided to pick a music video for today that pretty much speaks for itself.  As you can probably guess from just watching, this video for Tomoyasu Hotei’s Battle Without Honor or Humanity was released to coincide with the release of the Kill Bill soundtrack.

Though most listeners immediately associate this song with Kill Bill, it was actually originally written for and used in another film, 2000’s New Battles Without Honor or Humanity.  As any quick perusal of YouTube will show you, this is not only one of Hotei’s most popular songs but also one that exists in several different version.  The video above last for 3 and a half minutes.  The version of the song on the Kill Bill soundtrack is a minute shorter.  I’ve come across versions on YouTube that last anywhere from 6 to 15 minutes.  Regardless which version you use, Battle Without Honor or Humanity is a good stripper song.  Just saying.

This is also a song that’s fun to listen to while you’re driving, unless of course you live in a city with really bad traffic and are prone to road rage.  If that’s the case, you might want to listen to something a little bit more calming.

Anyway, regardless of how good or bad your morning commute may be, enjoy!




Song of the Day: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (performed by Santa Esmeralda)

Okay, two quick confessions.  First off, I really wanted to write this post in Spanish because it’s Cinco De Mayo but unfortunately, other than a few phrases I picked up from my mom, I don’t speak Spanish.  Secondly, I’ve done some research and I’ve discovered that the band featured here (Santa Esmeralda) is actually a French group.  So, despite the fact that Santa Esmeralda’s cover of Don’t Let Me Misunderstood is obviously influenced by Latin music, it’s still not exactly ideal for Cinco De Mayo.

But you know what?  When I first heard this song on the soundtrack for Kill Bill Volume One, I immediately fell in love with it and I forced my mom to listen to all 10 minutes of it and she loved it too.  And unlike me, my mom grew up speaking Spanish and actually had a very pretty singing voice.  She was also very proud of her heritage.  So, if this song was good enough for her, it’s good enough for me.

I have to admit, as well, that when I first heard Santa Esmeralda’s version, I assumed that the cover had been recorded specifically for the Kill Bill soundtrack.  Well, turns out I was not only wrong, I was way wrong.  This cover version was actually recorded way back in 1977.

I also thought, before I started writing this post, that the song was originally performed by the Animals.  Wrong again.  The song was first written in 1964 by Bennie Benjamin, Gloria Caldwell, and Sol Marcus and it was originally performed by Nina Simone.  Then, in 1965, the Animals did their famous cover.  The Animals’ version of the song is the one that got stuck in my head when I was dating this guy who worked at Mervyn’s because, oh my God, it was playing all the freaking time in that store!

But the Santa Esmeralda version is my favorite and it is today’s song of the day.

Song of the Day: Battle Without Honor or Humanity (by Tomoyasu Hotei)

To me, one of the most iconic sequences in 21st century cinema comes towards the end of Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, Volume One.  I’m talking about the scene in which Tokyo crime boss O-ren (played by Lucy Liu) walks through the House of Blue Leaves, flanked on either side by her bubble gum-chewing bodyguards.  While there’s a lot that makes  this scene memorable (the slow-mo staging, Liu’s regal yet fierce persona), what I always remember first when I think about this scene is the song playing on the soundtrack.

Of course, I’m talking about Tomoyasu Hotei’s Battle Without Honor or Humanity.  Though the song was not originally written for Kill Bill, it seem to almost perfectly epitomize volume one of Tarantino’s masterpiece.  Yes, it’s over-the-top and shamelessly excessive.  Yet, much like the best of the grindhouse films that inspired Tarantino, it’s performed with such an undeniable artistry that it’s impossible not to get drawn into it.

Whenever I’m out grocery shopping or walking to my office at the start of my workday, I always imagine that this is the song playing in the background.  It definitely brings a little stride to my step.

(The song has other uses as well.  A month ago, I wanted to perform a little impromptu dance for a friend of mine.  This is the song that I ended up dancing to because I knew that, with this song backing you up, it’s impossible not to look good doing whatever you might happen to be doing.)

9 Favorite Revenge Films

Having recently seen Michael Caine’s revenge film Harry Brown I got to thinking about other revenge-themed films I’ve watched through the years and I realized that there were quite a bit of them. There’s something just primal and Old Testament about revenge flicks. It doesn’t matter whether they’re high-brow art-house films or the cheapest grindhouse flicks in the end it all boils down to one individual raining down their own version of Divine Wrath on those who wronged them.

Who hasn’t fantasized or thought about going all medieval on someone who just screwed them over. Maybe it was an infraction that was minor that one didn’t need to get overly upset over or something so heinous that only violence at its most basest was the only response. Going through with such thoughts usually stayed there: in one’s thoughts and imaginings. Revenge films seems to be quite popular because they allow even the meekest and most pacifist to secretly live vicariously through the revenge-minded leads in the film.

The list below is not the best revenge films out there but they definitely are my favorites…

Oldboy – This revenge film by South Korean auteur Park Chan-wook wasn’t just a blast to watch but also happens to be one of the best films of the past decade. It takes a simple plot of a man imprisoned against his will for 15 years with no explanation whatsoever that he literally goes insane and back to sane during his captivity. Revenge being the one thing which keeps him going and revenge he gets to inflict on all those he discovers were responsible. The mind-twisting last act in the film takes the revenge-theme right on it’s head as we find out that the main lead wasn’t the only one on a revenge train of thought.

I Spit On Your Grave aka Day of the Woman – This grindhouse classic from Meir Zarchi is the epitome of the rape victim turned revenge valkyrie. The film is not very easy to sit through since there’s nothing subtle about how filmmaker Meir Zarchi filmed every exploitative scene. From the prolonged gang rape sequence to each subsequent revenge act by Camille Keaton’s Jennifer character. Some critics have blasted the film as pandering to the lowest common denominator while others have hailed it as a post-modern feminist film. I like to think that both sides are correct and that the film lies somewhere in the middle. It definitely will put a scare on any group of men who are having thoughts of shenanigans.

Death Wish – When people hear revenge flick they almost always say this iconic film by Charles Bronson from the 70’s. The film was adapted from Brian Garfield’s 1072 novel of the same name and directed by Michael Winner. While critics had mixed reactions to the film with some calling it irresponsible filmmaking, the nation as a whole embraced the film. Here was a film which screamed to the nation that the rising crime-rate in the U.S. during the 1970’s wasn’t going to go unanswered. While some people may have seen the film as a blank check to actually commit vigilantism in the end it just helped a country sick and tired of the crime they see day in and day out. Again here was art becoming a driving force in changing a nation’s collective malaise into something more positive. It didn’t hurt that Bronson was badass as Paul Kersey.

Kill Bill: Volume 1-2 – Who else but the video clerk made good would make what I would consider the greatest genre mash-up film ever made. Quentin Tarantino’s ode to kung fu, spaghetti westerns and revenge flicks became so massive that he had to split the film into two volumes. I am talking about Kill Bill. Not his greatest film ever but I definitely consider it his most geek-friendly and most entertaining. Uma Thurman as The Bride tearing a bloody and witty path of revenge on those who failed to kill her created some of the most iconic fight sequences of the generation this film came out in. Every scene almost seemed to be inspired by other films of a similar theme and genre that film geeks everywhere must’ve exploded in their pants from all the awesomeness they were witnessing. Each volume had two great action sequences that were both fantastical and brutal.

Straw Dogs – One of the most controversial films in Sam Peckinpah’s controversy-filled directing career. Released in 1971 it told the story of how even the meekest person could be pushed into dealing out extreme violent justice on those who have wrong them and those they love. Seen by critics as quite misogynistic due to the nature of the rape scene of Susan George’s Amy character the film was banned for two decades in the UK for it’s unflinching look at violence. Being a huge fan of Sam Peckinpah I had to see it and when I did it automatically became one of my favorite films ever and not just a favorite revenge film. If there was ever a modern retelling of a Biblical-level fable it is this classic from Sam Peckinpah. Every revenge-fueled act by Dustin Hoffman literally oozes Old Testament justice. Just the way I like my revenge. 🙂

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan – Speaking of Biblical this first sequel in the Star Trek film franchise still considered by fans and non-fans alike as the best in the series. Hard to argue with them since it’s also an opinion I share. The sequel takes a popular episode from the original series and follows it up with all the cast of characters older and more seasoned. In the case of Ricardo Montalban’s Khan Noonian Singh quite seasoned and classy as smooth Corinthian leather. It’s a film with Shatner’s Kirk and Montalban’s Khan in an everending cycle of revenge which would culminate in what would be one of film’s most heartbreaking scenes. One could taste the revenge emanating from the two characters as age-won wisdom and genetically-engineered intellect fell by the wayside to feed the vengeance sought by Kirk and Khan. This revenge flick also has one of the most awesome death speeches by a character on film.

Carrie – Brian De Palma’s film adaptation of one of Stephen King’s better horror novels still seen by many as the best film adapt of a King novel. It combines the existential horror of being a girl and her body maturing in the dog-eat-dog world of high school and the horror said girl can inflict on those tormenting her. It’s high school bullying and revenge with a healthy dose of Stephen King shenanigans mixed in. Sissy Spacek was great as the titular character. One doesn’t have to be a high school girl to feel for Carrie and what she goes through. Her snapping in the last act and inflicting her psychokinetic-brand of revenge on her tormentors must’ve gotten more than a few “Hell yeah!” from some of the teens and adults who went through high school hell. It also has a classic line uttered by Carrie’s mother played by Piper Laurie: “I can see your dirty pillows. Everyone will.”

Orca – This film was to be producer Dino De Laurentiis’ attempt to capitalize on the success of Steven Spielberg’s classic man-versus-nature thriller, Jaws. Starring Richard Harris, Charlotte Rampling and Bo Derek the film wasn’t a success when it first came out. While Spielberg’s film was a modern retelling of Moby Dick this killer whale version by director Michael Anderson was Death Wish on water with Paul Kersey as the killer whale. This was one of the first films where I realized none of the people on the screen were worth rooting for to survive. I was all for the killer whale who was on a warpath to avenge his mate and unborn wee killer whale who were killed by Harris and his crew. Shamu this killer whale was not and it always brought a smile to my face whenever the killer whale outsmarted the humans and killed each and everyone in inventive ways. I’m wondering if all the killer whales in all the aquatic parks are just biding their time before they too go all Orca on their handlers and the audience. I’d pay to see that!

Treevenge – Last but not least the greatest film ever made!