6. Rolling Thunder (1977)
The second neo-noir on this list is the dark ‘Rolling Thunder’. The film is directed by John Flynn and written by Paul Schrader and rewritten by Heywood Gould. It’s clear that it was based on one of Schrader’s stories, because it has Schrader written all over it.
The story follows Charles Rane, a Vietnam veteran that just returned home and is welcomed a hero. One day burglars invade his home to steal the silver coins he got for his service. The burglars torture Charles and mangle his hand and eventually leave him and his family for dead. When Charles survives, he sets out on a dark revenge mission with now a hook for a hand.
Tarantino has called Rolling Thunder one of his favorite films and even set up the short-lived distribution company ‘Rolling Thunder Pictures.’ With Rolling Thunder Pictures Tarantino released a number of his favorite independent, cult, and/or foreign films including The Beyond, Chunking Express, and Sonatine. In fact, all films released under its banner are well-worth of checking out.
7. Bullit (1968)
Steve McQueen plays the police lieutenant Frank Bullit in this classic action thriller. Bullit is watching over the key witness in the case against mob boss Pete Ross. When the witness gets killed, Bullit is determined to catch the men responsible by any means necessary.
The movie is Peter Yates his most popular one, probably all thanks to its chase sequence. Of course, a Ford Mustang racing through the steep roads of San Francisco makes for great cinema, but this one is more than that; it’s something special. The chase sequence is considered one of the best in film history and has left behind a great legacy and even a Bullit edition of the Ford Mustang was released in 2001.
When Tarantino loves a movie, he tends to pay an homage to it, how little that may be and this is also true for Bullit. A number plate of one of stuntman Mike’s cars in Death Proof matches the number plate in Bullit as a little ode to a great inspiration.
8. Fist of Fury (1972)
As Chen Zhen (Bruce Lee) returns home to Shanghai to marry his fiancée he learns of the death of his master. During the funeral, members of a Japanese dojo harass the attendees and Chen is the only one to stand up for his people. When he discovers the Japanese were responsible for his master’s death, he decides to take revenge and simultaneously defend the honor of the oppressed Chinese.
Earlier in the list Hong Kong cinema was already very briefly touched upon, but this list wouldn’t be complete without a Bruce Lee film. The Hong Kong-American actor needs no introduction, as he might be the most well-known martial artist, or at least the most influential one. As founder of the hybrid martial arts philosophy ‘Jeet Kune Do’, he is often considered to be the one that paved the way for the modern MMA or mixed martial arts. Over the years he was active in the film industry he showcased his skills in many films both in Hong Kong and the US. He inspired many in the film industry and in the martial arts world, and his legacy still lives on after his passing.
Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of Bruce Lee as is visible in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, but even more so in Kill Bill. The Bride her yellow jumpsuit is in honor of the similar jumpsuit Bruce Lee was wearing in Game of Death; famous for being uncompleted since Bruce Lee passed away during production. But another homage comes straight out of Fist of Fury: The fight against the crazy 88 is partly based on Bruce’s first fight with the dojo. Definitely a watch worthwhile, as are many of Bruce Lee his films!
9. The Getaway (1972)
The second appearance of Steve McQueen on this list is as the convict Doc McCoy, who is in his fourth year of a ten-year prison sentence. The crooked Jack Beynon (Ben Johnson) gets him an early release in return for helping out with a bank robbery. When the robbery doesn’t go to Doc his plan, he and his wife (Ali MacGraw) must go on the run across the border to Mexico.
The Getaway is one of two collaborations between Steve McQueen and Sam Peckinpah, the other being Junior Bonner, as well released in 1972. It’s a unique sight since Peckinpah didn’t direct many major stars, even though he did direct some major movies in The Wild Bunch, Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, and Straw Dogs.
As this list already established, Tarantino likes to pay homages (some call it plagiarism) to films and directors that inspired him and of course this is also the case for The Getaway. Two moments of The Getaway can be found back in Death Proof; a film apparently fully packed with homages and references.
10. Amer (2009)
It’s hard to quickly summarize Amer since the plot is so minimal and it’s something you need to experience for yourself. Director duo Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani describe their movie as followed: “It’s the discovery of desire, body, and sexuality of a female protagonist at three moments of her life.”
Amer was the debut film of the French-Belgian director duo after having made a number of very promising shorts. They perfected a Giallo-inspired style in their shorts and made it distinctly theirs with Amer. The at the time little known film sparked the interest of Tarantino, whom named it among his 20 favorite films of the year.
After Amer, Cattet and Forzani took a stab at the Giallo genre a second time with ‘The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears’ and followed that up with ‘Let the Corpses Tan’ which are both two phenomenal genre pieces, again with their beautiful distinct style. They are a duo to look out for in the future, because it seems they have a lot more in store!