Lopped-Off Limbs in Popular Cinema

Over ther past few months I’ve seen Sin City, Revenge of the Sith , and both of the Kill Bill films. Never in my life have I seen such a collection of chopped-off extremities. And it’s all in big-budget mainstream cinema, too. Not in the usual anything-for-a-thrill, cheap effects bottom-of-the-barreel stuff. Heck, Sith is perceived as a sort of family film (and, inasmuch as all those light sabre wounds seem to be self-cauterizing and free of arterial spray, it is the tamest of the lot). Nevertheless, you can rightly call all of these separated arms, legs, and heads (not to mention random transfixions and slicing) to be a bona fide trend.

Howcum? Have we reached a point where this is acceptable, or have we reached a point where lesser thrills no longer thrill, and this is now required? I think in all of Spartacus there’s only one lopped-off hand.

It’s a matter of technology. Once, you had to work with prosthetics and animatronics and hands hidden up sleeves… and it still looked fake. Now all you have to do is wear a blue glove and voila! - the computer geeks do the rest.

Once Hollywood can do something, it does it over and over again.

Yeah, but that’s not it in the case of Kill Bill – according to the IMDB, Quentin Tarentino refused to use CGI or any high-tech solutions, insisting that they stick to fake blood-filled condoms and cutaway dummies in order to keep the look of the Asian fight films he’s paying homage to.

I blame George Lucas: http://www.runleiarun.com/choppedoffhands/start.html

Admittedly, Sparticus may have showed only one hand chopped off, but they showed more crucifixions than any three “Greatest Story Ever Told” movies.

Another recent dismemberment thread:

How many arms/hands have been cut off in the Star Wars series (Obvious Spoiler Alert)

It’s just a flesh wound.

Personally, I find the fixation on lopping off limbs to be really creepy, sick and disgusting. That said, if you’re making a horror or gross out film, that’s fine. If you’re making a film that’s supposed to be telling any other kind of story I think it’s way out of place. (and I’m not saying this just because I don’t like the “Star Wars” prequels & their chop-offs).

That’s what I wanted to post! :mad: :smiley:

How graphic do we wanna get? If not very graphic, we can go back quite a ways in film history. Kings Row (1940), one of Ronald Reagan’s better star vehicles, featured Reagan getting both legs needlessly amputated by a vengeful doctor. And, of course, coming through a happy man. This was the source of RR’s famous quote: “Where’s the rest of me?

It ain’t the age or how graphic. It’s how damned many of them. We only lost the one limb in that film. There was one hand in The Vikings. Buit Kill Bill I and Sith have a virtual harvest of fallen limbs.

I have a hunch you either didn’t see (or didn’t enjoy) Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy

Well Sin City and Kill Bill are not supposed to be horror films, but the loss of limbs are both important, showing you the relentlessness of the protagonists in their quests for vengeance. In both films, it is the good guys cutting body parts off the bad guys, and both films are effective enough to get us to cheer them on, however uncomfortably.

We’ve never had relentless protagonists before? This bounty of limbs is something new. The Terminator was as relentless as they come, but I don’t recall hacked-off limbs in any of those flicks plenty of impalemts, though, and other mayhem.)

Another thing – in Bill II, The Bride announces to The devastated 88 after she plows through them “All your limbs belong to me!” Really? What did she want with them? Have an Arms Sale?

Kill Bill (particularly Volume 1) was paying direct homage to a genre of Japanese films from the '60s called chanbara, usually samurai epics with plenty of swordfighting, lost limbs, and gushing, spurting geysers of Technicolor blood. Some of the better-known chanbara (which only experienced a resurgence in popularity after Kill Bill’s success) include Shogun Assassin (itself being two older chanbara films edited together) and Lady Snowblood, which provided the inspiration for the Bride’s final duel with O-Ren Ishii.

As for Sin City, it was a direct adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novels, and Marv’s story in particular, “The Hard Goodbye,” was published in 1990 or '91. The movie was derived page for page, panel for panel, shot for shot from the comics, so that wasn’t exactly original mayhem either.

Is it simply more realistic? I mean, when people are fighting with blades made of plasma or light, or with the sharpest blades ever forged in the world, shouldn’t it be natural that limbs will come off?

How hard is it to slice an arm off with a good katana? It would seem to be a natural thing to attempt if you wanted to kill someone.

Yeah, but they’re all showing up in the cinemas now. Regardless of when the Chinese flicks came out (and, as I’ve stated on this Board before, I think the spouting-arterial-blood scenes all go back to a Kurasawa film – Yojimbo, I think – in which he did it as a commentary on all those people who complained about the lack of blood in his flicks) and Miller’s graphic came out, you didn’t see this many hacked-off limbs in mainstream Western cinema until now. The wind has shifted someplace.

Nitpick: actually, it was the only SW film to get a PG-13 rating, as opposed to PG and Lucas specifically said that ROTS was NOT a film for young children, that it wasn’t as family friendly as the others.


spoilers ahead for both Terminator and Aliens:
The Terminator himself lost both of his legs, one arm half his torso and the entirety of his outer skin during the course of the movie. I’d say that counts for both relentless pursuit and a major loss of limbs.

Which reminds me of the ending of Aliens where the android is literally ripped in half right on screen and comes back to save the day.

Androids and Robots losing parts I can take – in principle they can be repaired. Despite the gee-whiz technology of Star Wars, though, cutting off people’s limbs is a whole 'nother ball game.


the Black Knight Always triumphs!, have at you!