Kill Bill: Volume I

Review Date:
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Lawrence Bender
Uma Thurman as The Bride
Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishi
Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green
An ass-kicking woman who decides to leave her death-dealing crew in order to get married and have children is stabbed in the back by her aforementioned cohorts, when they show up at her wedding and proceed to blow everyone away, including The Bride herself. Unfortunately for them, she survives the bloodbath and rises to reap her revenge upon all of them. She makes a list of their names, trains really hard and then…well, starts killing!! Uma Thurman kicking lots of ass…ensues. Watch your back, Ethan.
Quentin Tarantino is a major film geek, adores the medium of cinema, lives and dreams up movie scenarios and is actually one of the few people in the world who seems to have “carte blanche” to create anything that he desires on film, any which way that he desires to do so. The reason that he has that freedom is because many years ago, he released a film called PULP FICTION that essentially put Miramax Films “on the map”. Since then, Mr. Harvey Weinstein, the behemoth who runs the “indie” company, has made no secrets about owing plenty to the man who toiled around for years as a Manhattan Beach video store clerk until he hit the big-time with 1992’s RESERVOIR DOGS (Tarantino was known to leave profanity-laced messages at the homes of those customers who didn’t return videos, etc…) I say all this because I simply cannot imagine any other filmmaker: 1) having the movie-knowledge rolodex to come up with all of the things that are wildly and quite successfully melded together in KILL BILL and 2) given free reign to take so many chances, slap convention in the face and roll the dice on a number of techniques that might turn many people off, while simultaneously triggering cinematic orgasms for fanboys around the planet. Having said that, I could see how some people might qualify this film as somewhat self-indulgent, but you can’t really say that unless you also mention other relevant words with it, like fun, inventive, exciting, ballsy, violent, entertaining, stylized and brilliant. For major movie fans like myself, especially those who appreciate a rousing barroom samurai brawl with the best of them, you really can’t ask for much more than Uma Thurman, dressed in Bruce Lee yellow, brandishing a vengeful blade of steel and chopping through her Asian nemeses like Bloody Mary celery sticks.

The film is obviously not to be taken too seriously. I smiled throughout the entire process and couldn’t help but feel completely in tune with Tarantino’s own enthusiasm for the medium. He truly seems to have a knack for amalgamating much of what his audience wants to see on the big screen, actually creating it, then going one step further and blowing you away with a bunch of other cool shit to boot. If you’re a fan of highly stylized flicks, KILL BILL will gently caress your balls, kick them right up through your nose, then allow you to soak them in warm water, but even then…only once you get home. It features everything that Tarantino has integrated into his previous films including the chronological play with the timeline, the violent situations incorporated into everyday settings, the genius use of music throughout (love the mix of genres and the Sergio Leone vibe), as well as plenty of new coolness like decapitations and maimings galore, blood sprayed out in ridiculous amounts, a stand-alone anime segment that actually managed to envelop me in its short spantime and much, much more. You can also expect some of Tarantino’s unique dialogue, although nothing quite as memorable as his previous scripts, most likely because a good chunk of this film is presented in Japanese with subtitles. There are more than a handful of cool, unforgettable scenes though including the night on which Lucy Liu’s character is anointed as the leader of the Japanese mob (don’t ever bring up her Chinese/Japanese background, folks…trust me!), a hilarious moment in which a doctor brings a man into Thurman’s hospital room and discusses, well…you’ll see, as well as the already infamous “House of Blue Leaves” scrap that was about as violent, over-the-top and fun to watch as most anything else that I’ve seen this year. I didn’t like the fact that half of that sequence was shot in black-and-white though, which I’m pretty sure was done for MPAA reasons. I much preferred it all in color.

As for the characters, only half of the leads are actually featured in this installment of the film, but those who were, worked wonderfully, especially Thurman, who has to be applauded for her heroics (thumbs down on her toes though), and Liu, who played her cold-hearted, vengeful assassin character with sass. Further props go out to both Julie Dreyfus as Sofie Fatale and Chiaki Kuriyama as GoGo for providing the festivities with even more girl-power spice. Both ladies are great here and GoGo’s mace-attack against Uma, as well as her general nasty schoolgirl demeanor, made me a bigger fan (although I wouldn’t want to nail her…see the movie and find out why) Needless to say, the film’s also peppered with in-jokes, homages as far as the eye can see (gotta love those Red Apple cigarettes) and a presentation style that felt a lot like a novelized comic book. No one is going to accuse Tarantino of over-plotting his film, which can essentially be described as a “female revenge” story, but might call the auteur on some of the film’s lengthier exchanges (like the one featuring Sonny Chiba), or its final tete-a-tete with Liu, which despite satisfying me on an emotional level, simply could not live up to the preceding ferocious “House of Blue Leaves” massacre. At least one scene also felt superfluous and included for no other reason than to intro a character to the audience and not really to move the story forward-Hannah in the hospital room-wouldn’t Bill have thought of that before he sent her? The ending, on the other hand, was perfectly capped with a one-liner that both surprised and ignited my anticipation for Volume 2.

This movie does not have an Oscar worthy screenplay, features gallons upon gallons of the red stuff and is edited in such a way that might not appeal to your “regular audience member”, but for someone who adores movies as much as I do, for anyone looking to go into a theater and enjoy the sheer spectacle of a vengeful woman slicing into everything and everyone in sight and for anyone who is, at the very least, a tiny bit curious about what the man who wrote movies like NATURAL BORN KILLERS and FROM DUSK TILL DAWN came up with after 6 years on the sidelines, check into KILL BILL and enjoy the spoils. In a recent interview, director Quentin Tarantino said that he made a film that “Clarence from TRUE ROMANCE would love to see”. I couldn’t agree more and would even add his spunky sidekick Alabama to that declaration as well. I could just see them now…cuddling up together, popcorn in laps, guns on the coffee table, etc… Now who’s up for some pie?!?

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

Kill Bill: Volume I