Probably no other film made such a fuss about a longer version before its release than "Kill Bill Vol.1" - Quentin Tarantino already said beforehand in an interview that the movie will be released in its full uncut and original version in Japan. The reason why is obvious - because "Kill Bill" is an homage to the (especially older) Asian cinema. With Sonny Chiba (as Hattori Hanzo) and Chiaki Kuriyama (as Gogo) there are also two well known Japanese actors in the movie. These characters also find more attention with the Japanese promotion as they are highlighted in the DVD menu.
The most famous scene that was remade is probably the black/white final. You'll find more information regarding to this in the specific cut description.
The German version, which equals the international cut, was compared to the Japanese version. Without considering alternative footage and the b/w scene, the international version has been cut in 17 scenes for 62 sec.
The black and white scene and other differences will be mentioned separately.
In the Japanese version the parody on "Star Trek - The Wrath of Khan" at the beginning of the movie is missing: meant is the saying "Revenge is a dish best served cold" with the explanation: "Old Klingon proverb" appearing moments later.
Why especially this really funny idea has been cut in the Japanese version is unintelligible. Like in every other country Star Trek has also a big fan community in Japan, so it is unlikely that it is missing because Star Trek has no influence there.
Instead there's a dedication in the Japanese version:
This Film is dedicated to master filmmaker.
Kinji Fukasaku is - among other things - the director of Battle Royale. Why there was not enough room for mentioning both in the Japanese version remains unclear.
8 Sec. in the Japan Version
Opening scene at Vernita Green's
For a strange reason the scene, when the women (Black Mamba and Vernita Green) stop fighting to have a cup of coffee in the kitchen because Vernita's daughter comes back from school, has been arranged differently in the Japanese version:
In the international version this scene can be seen completely from bird's-eye perspective up to the point when Vernita gives Black Mamba a towel.
In the Japanese version there are inserts in between. - The two coffee cups, in which Vernita is pouring the coffee, can be seen in a close up. - Then comes an insert of Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) and she asks if she could have a towel, then you can see Vernita giving her the towel.
There is no time difference but the shots of the coffee mugs of both women and of Vernita can't be seen in the International version because here you see the same acting procedure from a bird's eye perpective.
Pictures from the International Version:
Pictures from the Japanese Version:
Animesequence: O-ren Ishii's history
The Yakuza boss Matsumoto killed O-Ren's family when she was nine. She watched the murder hidden under a bed. - Her father, belonging to the US military, is fighting with two sidekicks of Matsumoto and kills them without great effort, yet pretty "hard". - One of them tries to get up again but O-Ren's father comes running and smashes his head into the wall. Here is the cut, though a very "clever" one!
Her father smashes the head of the guy into the wall behind him, the impact is missing. You can see the smashed face of the guy sinking down the wall. O-Rens father, however, comes for a second blow and almost thrusts him through the wall. With a massive crack and crunching he strikes the head of the guy a second time against the wall.- When he lets go of him, the international version resumes.
The cuts have been placed very clever, so here's a listing of the situation in both versions for clarification:
Now the explanation of the uncut Japanese Version:
As one can see from the list exactly the part in the middle was deleted.
Now the pictures - but the brutality is not very impressive visually, but comes more from the sounds:
The death of Matsumoto was cut in the International version, too.-
O-Ren rams a sword in Matsumotos stomach. While he is lying on the floor racked with pain, she asks him over and over if he recognizes something on her. "Look at my face.Look at my eyes". After this sentence she pushes the sword deeper into his body. Exactly in this moment there is the cut.
The following is missing:
You can see her face and she is still listing: "Look at my Nose...Look at my chin.". The view changes to a bloody mouth with missing theeth, he spits blood.
O-Ren rips his stomach open while pulling the sword up slowly. - The close up has been removed completely so you can only see the next scene in which a huge bloodfountain splatters out of the boss.
The three shots of the room, how it is messed up with Matsumotos blood, are arranged differently. - There is no time lag.
There is one scene missing that shows bleeding Matsumoto begging for mercy.
Distanceview: O-Ren is still sitting on Matusomto, who know finally dies (his hand sinks down), following a shot over his sliced body showing his disemboweled guts.
You can still see blood splattering all over after the guts fell out of his stomach and the scene is a little bit longer in the Japanese Version.
O-Rens assistant (Sophie)is wallowing on the floor a little bit longer in the JP version after Thurman has cut off her (first) arm.
The screaming Sophie lies again a little bit longer on the floor in the JP version.
Before the actual big fight starts, Black Mamba has to take care of some baddies.- Among this baddies there is a woman that Mamba takes care of at last.(Mamba pierces her with a sword). Here is another insert:
There is a Closeup missing that shows the face of the woman and how she is spitting blood, as well as another insert of Black Mamba who is turning the sword slightly.
Black Mamba parries the punch of an opponent, takes his sword (now she has two) and stabbs two guys at the same time.
Black Mamba kills two other guys and performs a backflip (Wirework of course).
Black / White - filter
This scene is known to everybody that followed the posts in all the internetforums all over the world.
A big part of the showdown in the International Version is held in B/W. Only the JP Version shows the hole showdown in colour. This passage is skillfully set in scene, you can see how Uma is ripping out an eye of one of her opponents. Right in this moment the picture turns B/W. So the analogy is clear, a very amusing moment. But it should have stayed at this moment because after a few minutes it starts to suck. The reason for this passage is just that Tarantino wanted to protect his movie from censorship. This is the only reason. Of course they made it look nice but whoever saw the fight in colour will never want to see it in B/W again. This has a reason, too: It works only partially. Kill Bill is a new (action)movie. Thats the way things are, even if they built in a lot of things to make him look older they served everything what is possible nowadays. For example the quick cutting or the numerous close ups. And exactly this is a mainproblem: It's doesn't make the actual "watching" easier...it makes it strenous.
The B/W passage begins with the scene when Uma rips out her opponents eye. Timeindex1.19.06 (US-DVD, NTSC).
It ends at Timeindex 1.22.38 with a close up of Thurmans' face exactly when she blinks and you can hear a lightswitch tone.
The overall length of this passage is 3 minutes,32 seconds.
Unfortunately, the scene was cut again for the R-Rating (this applies to all International Versions. The question is: how much would Tarantino have to cut if he had not used the B/W effect?
But more information on that in the separated cutdescriptions!
Here some more pictures for a comparison
(Thanks to Sine707 for the pictures of the International Version:
1.19.07(cut in the B/W passage)
Once again to exclude misunderstandings: in the International Version the scene here is in B/W, but it is still cut!
A guy is running to Uma from behind, who is still holding the ripped out eye from the other opponent in her fingers.- She turns around and throws the eye into the mouth of the approaching enemy, who is swallowing it.- Then an insert of Sophie, who is still lying on the floor bleeding.-Shocked and disgusted about the "Eye-thing", she's making a grimace.
1.19.25 (cut in the S/W Passage)
One of the guys gets sliced with a sword...Blood is splattering out of his throat (scene filmed from behind)
1.19.40 (cut in the B/W passage)
Black Mamba cuts off a guys mask. She sees that he is half a boy and throws him back at his buddies who are falling in one of the tanks(pools) with him
The last guy is by the way the same guy that gets his ass spanked at the end of the fight.
1.19.48 (cut in the B/W passage)
A sliced guy turns around in front of a wall and splatters it full with blood.
1.20.07 (cut in the B/W passage)
The guy, on whose shoulders Uma is sitting, has to take a hard fate (Not shown in the IT Version):
He tries to stab Uma who is still sitting on his shoulders. She realizes this and parries his strike und cuts his arms off from above. With a huge fountain of blood, he falls out of the screen.
In the IT Version the screen changes back into a colourful screen.- Because of this it comes difference in form of alternative material:
As mentioned above, they are using a blink of Uma and a lightswitch sound to get back from B/W to colour.-In the JP version the close-up from Uma was shortend and they inserted a medium long shot of her.
Sofie loses her second Arm.
After the B/W passage:
The Bride puts Sophie in her trunk. Sophie does not talk so the Bride cuts off her second arm.
Black Mamba yells at Sophie:"Give me your other arm" and grabs her arm. Sophie begs for mercy but Mamba cuts it off
A part of that sound can still be heard in the "off" of the IT version while Bill is stroking Sophies face