Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kill Bill's Twist on the Catfight

The number of women who fight in TV shows and movies pales in comparison to the amount of fighting men who have been featured. Does this mean that the women featured are less strong, less capable of fighting, and perhaps even less exciting to watch than men? Quite the contrary, actually, for it seems that "fighting girls" are such a novelty compared to "fighting guys" that girls who brawl in hit shows and films get a significant amount of attention due to their typically flashier moves and more graceful actions. The audiences love--and are awed by--watching girls fight ("I can't believe she just did that!") and scriptwriters love to include these fight scenes since they know the audiences will eat them up. The problem that frequently pops up, though, is that these supposedly strong women are also depicted as sex symbols who never seem to get more than a scratch on them.

The fight scene above is from the movie Kill Bill Volume 2 and it features The Bride (the film's main protagonist) facing off with one of her revenge targets, Elle Driver. First of all, there are several things that immediately separate this particular fight from other popular fight scenes:

1) Woman vs. woman
2) Both women are fully and modestly clothed.

As the scene unfolds, several other things happen that make it clear that this isn't your average catfight:

1) Both women punch hard, kick hard...and fight hard.
2) Both women love their swords.
3) Both women become quite bloody.
4) Both women remain fully clothed.

Even though there is still some of the hair-pulling and name-calling found in typical catfights, Kill Bill basically overthrows the accepted meaning of the word "catfight," as the fight scene between the women overlaps with much of a fight scene commonly seen between men. Who says women can't be sexy when they're fully clothed and bloody while fighting? Violence shouldn't have to be overly sexualized just because women are involved, and Kill Bill shows that perfectly.


  1. I agree. If a movie is quality then it doesn't need to rely on skimpy outfits to get public attention and viewers. It seems like the skimpy costumes are a mark of the insecurity of directors and producers, and their desperation to attract as large an audience as possible. Kill Bill was a very successful movie and maintained female dignity. It would be nice if movies and stories were created purely for their own sake instead of being directed at an audience.

  2. I agree as well. I think it is definitely empowering. I think it can be related to the discussion we had in class about how the first Promethea we see is not the most attractive woman in the whole book. In many of the other comics we've read, the superheroine is gorgeous and lean and always stands out in the crowd. In Promethea, we first see her as a little dirty, a bit heavy, and not all-around attractive. Yet, she still manages to be the respected kick-ass superheroine. I think in both instances, a good message is being successful. Just because someone isn't a sex symbol, doesn't mean they can't be equally, if not more, successful.

  3. I have always really liked this movie, and one thing I liked in particular was how all of the warrior people were girls. Even though they had learned everything from a man, in the end (not to give it away since its really good) the Bride wins against Bill, showing how the student becomes greater than the master, the girl beats the boy.

  4. I think that Kill Bill's definition of "women's empowerment" is way different than most comic books'. Nonetheless, it is a refreshing detour from some of the damsels in distress. Uma Thurman kicks butt in this movie and although I wouldn't call her character a role model, she definitely has a different kind of outlook on life and what her destiny is.

  5. Based on some people's definitions, this wouldn't even be considered a cat fight anymore (no removal of clothing, petty scratching and hair ripping). This is a legitimate fight between two skilled assassins. I agree with you saying that women don't have to be scantily clad to be sexy, but I don't agree that a serious fight scene (whether with women or men) should have any sexual implications whatsoever.

  6. While watching this scene, i didn't really think about the fact that it could be sexualized or that it was empowering women. This scene captivated me to such an extent that I just thought of it as a fight scene with no further implications. In fact, I don't see how it could be construed as sexual at all. For most movie scene's standards, it gets pretty disgusting and violent.

  7. It is so true this "cat fight" is so different to what I am so used to of seeing in reality television show of women pulling their hairs, scratching or slapping and instead in this movie there is this fight scene where they are not sexualized in any way and both females can definitely kick ass.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.