One thing that American auteur Quentin Tarantino is both praised and criticised for is his encyclopaedic knowledge of world cinema history. While many have applauded Tarantino for incorporating elements from the works of pioneers such as Mario Bava and Sergio Leone, others have attacked the director for “stealing” from other artists.
Tarantino has acknowledged this himself on multiple occasions, claiming that the only reason he ever started making films is because of these cinematic geniuses and that’s why he uses every opportunity to pay tributes to the artists he has looked up to. The director has even used his own voice to amplify some of his more obscure contemporaries such as Wong Kar-wai and Bong Joon-ho who have gained mainstream recognition after he introduced them to Western audiences.
The director of cult classics such as Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction has a special love for Asian cinema, having promoted films from South Korea and Hong Kong before. In addition to those, Tarantino is also very passionate about Japanese cinema and has repeatedly cited filmmakers such as Shinya Tsukamoto who revolutionised the art form through gems such as Tetsuo.
Tarantino is also a huge fan of Japanese martial artist Sonny Chiba which led him to the discovery of his favourite show from the country. According to Tarantino, the early 1980s show Shadow Warriors was the one that he liked the most and it starred Chiba as different ninjas in each of the seasons of the show which ran for four seasons in total.
“I’d also seen a Japanese ninja series on TV called Shadow Warriors which is the best cartoon I’ve seen on the screen,” Tarantino explained in an interview. The director loved the central premise of the show which revolved around a group of incompetent restaurant workers who turned into the most fearsome ninja warriors at night.
They were engaged in a fight between the progressives who wanted to bring Western culture to Japan and the conservatives who wanted to preserve Japanese culture in a bubble. In each opposite, the leader of the Shadow Warriors would deliver a sermon about the need for exterminating evil from the world before defeating the enemy. It influenced Tarantino so much that he ended up incorporating it for the famous ‘Ezekiel monologue‘ in Pulp Fiction.