Dark Souls and Hollow Hearts
A Lunch Community for all that is Film Noir
Original Film Poster

1994 film by director Quentin Tarantino

< read all 21 reviews

An Adrenaline Shot to the Heart of American Cinema

  • Mar 18, 2009
Rating:
+5

WARNING: This review contains spoilers!

 

Note: In my summary of the plot I have put the film's story into chronological order so that events unfold sequentially. This is not the order in which the events of the film are actually shown.

 

After the unexpected success of his first film, Reservoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino set out to create his follow-up film, Pulp Fiction, which would prove to be a milestone in his career and would become one of the best films of the decade. Pulp Fiction is an amalgam of all the film genres that Tarantino admired; being one part 1950s drive-in movie, one part French New Wave film, one part ‘70s American exploitation film, and one part dark comedy. All the while, the film is completely unique unto itself and is daringly original.
Titles

 

The film's screenplay was written by Tarantino and was based upon a series of stories that he and Roger Avary conceived of years earlier. Originally, the three main stories were intended as three separate short films, but Tarantino ultimately decided to connect the three separate plots and weave the various elements together. Using horror maestro Mario Bava's horror film anthology Black Sabbath as inspiration, Quentin Tarantino began working on the complex script, which moves back and forth through time while linking specific characters and events together.

Tarantino would also enhance the screenplay by making continual references to other films, pulp fiction magazines, crime novels, and other aspects of pop culture, just as he had done in Reservoir Dogs, but to a greater effect.

 

Quentin Tarantino at the Cannes Film Festival
Another component of the screenplay that would make Tarantino one of the most celebrated filmmakers in the U.S. was the film's refreshing dialogue, which gave the characters an opportunity to accelerate the plot through revealing and sometimes shocking conversation scenes (a good example being the scene where the intimacy of a foot massage is being compared to cunnilingus). While most film characters say only what they need to to propel the plot or lead to important story revelations, Pulp Fiction's  characters spend much of their time discussing what seem to be completely irrelevant subjects (like what they call a Quarter-pounder in France) or expounding upon their own hypocritical philosophies (like not eating pork because pigs are filthy animals, but dogs aren't filthy animals because they've got good personalities).

During these scenes, of which there are many in all of Tarantino's films, viewers are exposed to a "hyper-real" world of lowlifes and their strange codes of honor. The characters act as streetwise prophets, sarcastic cynics, ironic racists, and are frequently belligerent and brutal. Yet their extreme vulgarity and commonality are what make them so endearing and likeable.

This is where much of the film's charisma and controversy originate from. There have been many who wonder whether Tarantino is a Left-wing liberal, who ironically glamorizes racism, sexism, crime, and violence or whether he's a Right-wing reactionary, who's commenting on the growing corruption within society. To me, it seems silly to suppose that he's necessarily making either a political or social statement, when it's pretty clear that what he's commenting on is the way our views are reflected in popular culture and entertainment. In reality, all art is apolitical, regardless of the artist's intentions and it isn't until we project our ideals and our perspectives onto art that it takes on a socio-political context.

The screenplay, in all of its convoluted glory, would go on to win an Academy Award and influence aspiring screenwriters and directors across the country.

 

 

 
Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield

Pulp Fiction tells the tale of two hit men with delusions of grandeur, a tough-ass crime boss, the tough-ass crime boss' coke-addict of a girlfriend, the tough-ass crime boss' mysterious glowing briefcase, two lowlife thieves, who happen to be a lovey-dovey couple, a prideful boxer with an anger management problem, and some nasty red necks who do weird shit in the basement of their novelty shop.

 

Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield are two charismatic hit men. One morning, which starts out just like any other, they're sent to do their dirty work and retrieve a briefcase belonging to their employer, mafia big man, Marsellus Wallace. On their drive they discuss the subtle differences between living in Europe and living in America. Upon their arrival, they discuss the possibility that there could be as many as five people in the apartment that they're hitting and that for all intents and purposes, they should probably have shotguns. But they don't. While they prepare to make their move, Vincent explains that he's been asked to watch over Marsellus Wallace's wife, Mia. Jules warns Vincent that that may not go so well. According to Jules, Marsellus once through a man out of a window for simply giving Mia a foot massage. The two men finish up their trivial chatter and enter the apartment where three yuppies are hanging out lackadaisically and eating hamburgers for breakfast. Jules questions them about the case and demands that the yuppies, who were former employees of Marsellus, tell him why they betrayed him. When the yuppies fail to provide a satisfactory answer, Jules begins to quote scripture about the wrath of a vengeful God and then he a Vincent kill two of the yuppies. The third was their snitch, Marvin. What Vincent and Jules didn't know was that a fourth man was hiding in the bathroom with a fully loaded handgun. When he bursts out of the bathroom, he lets loose a volley of bullets, all of which miss their targets, Vincent and Jules blow him away. But Jules sees what happened as a miracle. Vincent dismisses it as a freak occurrence.

 

On the ride back Vincent asks Marvin what he thinks, when suddenly Vincent's gun accidentally discharges splattering Marvin's brains all over the back of Jules' car. In a panic, they go to Jules' old partner and friend Jimmie's house. When Jimmie sees the headless body sitting in the blood-spattered car in his garage, he freaks out knowing that his wife will divorce him if he's suspected of having gotten back into the business. So the two hit men call Marsellus and ask him to send them some sort of assistance in the disposal of the body. Marsellus tells them that he's sending the "Wolf". Winston Wolf is the best "clean-up man" in the biz. He shows up and promptly begins giving orders as to how to deal with the messy situation. Before long, Winston has Jules and Vincent stripping off their bloodied clothes in Jimmie's back yard and redressing in ridiculous t-shirts and shorts. After all is said and done Winston departs with the body and Vincent and Jules decide to go out for a nice breakfast. While Vincent is in the restroom, a pair of inept and infatuated thieves holds up the customers at the restaurant and demand that all money and valuables are turned over to them. But Jules, who has now been contemplating what to do with his life after witnessing the so-called "miracle" decides that it's his duty to leave the business of killing people, to serve God, and help those in need, so he negotiates with the two thieves, Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. Afterwards he and Vincent successfully deliver Marsellus' mysterious briefcase.

 

Sometime later, Vincent prepares for his date with Mia. But he can't calm his nerves so he decides that a shot of heroin might do the trick. Vincent visits his drug dealer, Lance and picks up the heroin, but Lance is all out of balloons (the traditional way of transporting the drug) and instead puts the heroin into a small bag. Vincent arrives at Marsellus' house to take Mia out for dinner. Mia, it turns out is a feisty outspoken cokehead with a love of pop culture. She has Vincent take them to Jack Rabbit Slim's, a 1950s-themed diner that's closer to an amusement park than a restaurant, where they discuss from having both been to Amsterdam. When the restaurant holds a twist dance contest, she drags Vincent up on stage and they boogie. After having either won a trophy for their dance or having stolen it, they head back to Marsellus' house, where Mia intends to seduce Vincent. But Vincent suffers a crisis of conscience. Should he screw around with the boss' wife or not? He heads to the bathroom to think things over and while he's in there Mia finds the bag of heroin. Mistaking the heroin for coke, she snorts a line and overdoses. In frenzy, Vincent drives Mia to Lance's in the hopes that Lance will have the knowledge to save her. But Lance is as high as a kite and he's never had to help someone who's overdosed on heroin before. While arguing over what to do, he and his wife Jody search the house for his medical booklet and an adrenaline shot. After having found it, Lance insists that Vincent administer the shot, which he does somewhat reluctantly, not wanting to be responsible for the death of the mob boss' wife. But Mia is revived just in time. It's decided that both Vincent and Mia would be better off if Marsellus didn't learn about her overdose, so they head their separate ways, and thus Vincent did not engage an illicit affair with Mia and his loyalty to Marsellus remains in tact.

 

When Butch Coolidge was just eight years old, a man named Captain Koons gave him a gift. Captain Koons was a friend of Butch's father, Major Coolidge, while they were both being held prisoner in a prison camp in Vietnam. Major Coolidge entrusted Captain Koons with his grand father's golden watch, a priceless family heirloom that passed through the generations, and Captain Koons swore that he'd deliver the watch to Butch if he survived the war and Major Coolidge didn't. Years later Butch had become a boxer and had been hired by Marsellus Wallace to throw a fight. But Butch is too full of pride, so instead he has a middleman place bets that he'll win the fight. Not only does he betray Marsellus Wallace, but he also beats the other boxer to death and then attempts to escape with the money that he won. Butch and his girlfriend, Fabienne, hole up in a run down motel, but there he learns that Fabienne has forgotten to bring Butch's precious golden watch. Butch throws a fit and heads back to their old house to pick the watch up. Little does he know that Vincent has been sent there by Marsellus. When Butch finds that a machine gun has been left on his kitchen counter, he waits, and when Vincent comes out of the bathroom he shoots him. Quickly, Butch flees the house with his watch and heads back to the motel. On the drive back, he happens to see Marsellus returning to Butch's house, where he had himself just left, and he hits Marsellus with the car. Yet, Marsellus is still alive and he takes a few shots at Butch, who runs off down the street and then takes refuge in a little novelty shop. When Marsellus barges into the shop, Butch catches him by surprise and they begin to exchange punches, that is until Maynard, the redneck owner of the shop pulls out a shotgun and threatens to shoot them if they continue to fight. Then Maynard knocks them both unconscious and takes them down to the basement. When Butch and Marsellus regain consciousness, they find themselves being looked over by Maynard and a corrupt cop named Zed. Zed and Maynard are trying to decide between Butch and Marsellus, though neither of them fully realizes what the two rednecks intend to do with them. Zed decides that he wants to do Marsellus first and he and Maynard let out the gimp, the gimp being a psychopathic sex slave dressed all in leather that they keep locked up in a chest. Zed leaves the gimp tied up and tells him to watch over Butch, while Zed and Maynard take Marsellus into the back room in the basement and sodomize him. Butch manages to free himself and knocks the gimp out and just as he's making his escape he comes to the conclusion that he can't leave Marsellus behind to suffer this cruel fate, no matter how much he hates the guy. Butch searches the novelty shop for anything that he could use for a weapon and at first he picks up a baseball bat, but then a small chainsaw catches his eye, but nothing can compare with the majestic katana that's mounted on the wall. Butch makes his way down into the basement with the katana in hand and he takes Maynard by surprise and then helps Marsellus to regain his composure. Marsellus shoots Zed in the groin and vows to "get medieval on his ass", and with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch no less, and he decides to let Butch go as a reward for his good deed. Butch leaves the shop on Zed's Harley-Davidson  and goes on to the motel to pick up Fabienne and together they ride off on the chopper, which is named Grace.

"Zed's dead, baby, Zed's dead."
 

 

 

The film features an extraordinary ensemble cast, including Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield, John Travolta as Vincent Vega, Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge, Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace, Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace, Tim Roth as Pumpkin, Amada Plummer as Honey Bunny, Eric Stoltz as Lance, Rosanna Arquette as Jody, Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf, Quentin Tarantino as Jimmie, Maria de Medeiros as Fabienne, and Christopher Walken as Captain Koons.

Pulp Fiction, much like Reservoir Dogs before it, proved to be a breakout in the careers of the majority of actors involved and in some cases revitalizing careers that had been on the decline.

Samuel L. Jackson, who had previously been known for relatively minor character actor roles, found himself becoming a lead actor and no wonder why. His performance as Jules Winnfield is stunningly powerful, as he effortlessly shifts from sly comedy to intense drama to full-on action.

John Travolta, before this film saved his acting career, had been relegated to doing asinine comedies and poorly written and directed vehicle films, was once again lifted into the top ranks of Hollywood's leading men. His portrayal of Vincent Vega may very well be his best performance eve, and aside from making him a popular actor again, it allowed him to flex his dramatic muscles and expand upon all of the personas he'd adopted in the past. Sure, he's a bit more bloated and out of shape and he may not meet the "teen idol" criteria anymore, but his skills as a performer are at their peak.

In the role of Butch Coolidge, Bruce Willis is finally being given the opportunity to emote and react, rather than simply throw punches and toss out wisecracks. It could be said that until Pulp Fiction, Bruce Willis was just another action star like Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, but after Pulp Fiction his abilities were elevated and he would go on to give even more nuanced and complex performances.

Uma Thurman gives a strangely seductive and sincere performance as Mia. Not once does she wink at the camera or acknowledge the fact that her character is essentially a satirical take on old film noir clichés, but instead she endows her character with an infectious, charismatic personality and still retains her vulnerability.

Ving Rhames gives a solid performance as Marsellus, though his role doesn't really require him to stretch his acting chops, so to speak.

Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer are both superb in their respective roles of Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, and impressively they manage to stay in character and keep straight faces while delivering some of the film's most offbeat dialogue.

Eric Stoltz is also amazing in the role of Lance, an irreverent drug dealer, who at one point shares a hilarious and panicky conversation with Travolta as they rush through his house trying to find an adrenaline shot and a medical book.

Rosanna Arquette, who plays Lance's multi-pierced, nympho wife, Jody, is dazzling and each scene that she's in is heightened in both its humor and dramatic intensity.

Harvey Keitel is marvelous as the suave and supremely confident "clean-up man" Winston Wolf, who is called in during a darkly humorous sequence to help dispose of a headless body.

Quentin Tarantino plays Jimmie, and of all the performances his is likely the weakest as he's playing a character with little to say or do and he's given no chance to really delve deeper into the part (which is his own fault since he's the writer and the director).

Maria de Medeiros plays the pouty and sexy girlfriend of Butch, Fabienne, and the scenes she shares with Bruce Willis are perhaps the most subtle and character-driven moments of the film. Some critics have complained that these scenes are too slow or that they stand out from the rest of the film in tone, but I found them to be a nice change of pace.

Christopher Walken, who appears in only one scene, plays Captain Koons. As Captain Koons, Walken gets to deliver one of the funniest speeches in film history as he tells you Butch Coolidge the history of his great grandfather's venerated gold watch, which has traveled down through the generations (as well as through some other things that I won't mention).

All in all, the cast is fucking spectacular.

The cast...
 

Pulp Fiction also boasted a brilliantly eclectic soundtrack that featured quirky surf music, ‘50s rock ‘n' roll, and classic R&B/Soul music and included such great artists as Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Dusty Springfield, Al Green, and Kool & The Gang. The film's soundtrack also features an awesome cover of Neil Diamond's Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon, which was performed by Urge Overkill.

 

It's hard to think of any film that's been released in the past twenty years that's had a greater impact on the film industry than Pulp Fiction. Tarantino's film has garnered high critical acclaim, the adoration of international movie audiences, was nominated for and/or won multiple awards including the prestigious "Palme d'Or" at the Cannes Film Festival, and inspired a whole new generation of filmmakers.

However, the films wasn't without its detractors. Some critics complained that the film was an obscene glorification of criminality, it was politically incorrect, or that it was far too violent. Others argued that it was unoriginal and any success that the film had was only due to the fact that Quentin Tarantino was referencing films that were superior to Pulp Fiction and thus earned the respect of elitist film critics. Some simply dismissed the film as being too kitschy.

These objections aside, it's hard to imagine what the face of modern cinema would look like without Quentin Tarantino and his masterpiece Pulp Fiction.

Poster
Opening Titles John Travolta as Vincent Vega Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winfield Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace

What did you think of this review?

Helpful
15
Thought-Provoking
13
Fun to Read
12
Well-Organized
13
Post a Comment
April 29, 2010
Could not have said it any better myself, EXCELLENT review man. Love this film and QT, great review.
April 29, 2010
Thanks. I wasn't a fan of his latest film, but pretty much am of all his other stuff... especially this and "Kill Bill".
 
July 15, 2009
I must say, this is amazingly well written.  This is perhaps one of my all time favorite movies.  I just haven't been able to really write a review yet.
July 15, 2009
Thanks, man. I wasn't sure how many people would actually read this one because of its length, but I'm glad you enjoyed it. Definitely give me a shout once you do write a review for "Pulp Fiction" and I'll be sure to check it out. : )
 
May 16, 2009
Wow! Very nice review. This has always been a personal fav of mine too. But then again, who didn't like it?
May 16, 2009
I'm not going to name names... only because I know that the cult of Tarantino would probably crucify the poor schmuck. :)
May 16, 2009
Oh, come on now! Let us at him! Send him this way. I will sodomize the beast who didn't like this film. LOL Haha. I'm not the biggest Tarantino fan in the world & don't automatically gravitate to everything he makes but this one was quite brilliant.
January 21, 2010
Wow, Scottie, I have to hand it to you... anyone with the courage to say that didn't like this film after Ceno's little rant has some major testicular fortitude. LOL!
February 05, 2010
LMAO
February 05, 2010
Poor beast.
 
March 20, 2009
excellent review, Count. I see you took my suggestion of defining each character to heart. Harsh language?? wait till you hear me talk about it LOL! I do think you are the true king of long reviews now, folks tend to tease me about my long write ups but I think you hold this crown! LOL I am with Trashie though, I try to avoid reviewing movies that I truly love for the most part because my shrink advised against it. he heh. I still do think this is Tarantino's best film--with "Kill Bill" very close behind. Once again, you've outdone yourself, bud.
March 23, 2009
Thanks, I was bit worried when I realized that I had written over 4 and a half pages of material (and that was after some lengthy editing), so I'm glad you dug it. And I agree, this film and the "Kill Bill" films are Tarantino's crowning achievements. If only "Kill Bill" would get released in the single volume director's cut as originally planned. Oh, and tell your shrink I said hi. LOL!
 
March 18, 2009
Great review, Count.
 
March 18, 2009
I apologize for the use of harsh language in this review, but I found it necessary to evoke the ambient mood of that the dialogue in the film possesses. Once again, I am sorry if I have offended anyone.
 
1
More Pulp Fiction reviews
review by . November 07, 2010
One of the all time best
   This is my favourite film, and in my opinion, the greatest film ever made. Every time I watch it, I can't find a single flaw. From the diner at the beginning, through to Brett's apartment, Butch's fight, Vince Vega's night out, right through to the hostage situation, it's perfectly scripted, plotted and paced.      Quentin Tarantino, my favourite director after this and Reservoir Dogs, is at his finest with this staggering film. Every camera move …
review by . May 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
**** out of ****     If there's anyone to take pop culture and flip it to a whole other side, it's Quentin Tarantino. In a world of darkness and unoriginality in the film industry, Tarantino is there to remind us of what cinema is all about; and he does this just about every time he makes a movie. He has made great films, although "Pulp Fiction", a film which is almost unanimously known as a masterpiece, is his best. And it's also one of the best films I have seen as of now, …
review by . July 23, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This is by far my favorite movie of all time.  I have to admit I only saw it for the first time a few years ago but have loved it ever since.  I watch it a ton and it makes me laugh every time.  I really love all the different story lines and how Tarantino ties them together.  It's fascinating that you never find out what is in the briefcase too.  I love Sam Jackson and although I am not a huge fan of John Travolta, I love the two of them together.  I think they …
Quick Tip by . August 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tarentino is the bomb! I especially love the several situational vignettes he uses in the movie. Love the dialogue in this movie. Great acting as well!!!
Quick Tip by . August 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
aahhhaaaa i finally get it! after my third time watching it the plot finally caught up to me lol
Quick Tip by . August 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The wonderful 2nd feature & surely his milestone that will never be bettered.
Quick Tip by . August 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Tarantino's blockbuster drama in 94 was hyped to me to the point that it could only fail. It has it's moments for me but it's writing and energy impressed legions and inspired numerous knockoffs for years to come as well as inspiring the way movies are looked at and made. I acknowledge all of this, but still got rubbed the wrong way with it's graphic drug use. If I'm brave I will watch it again.
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Def. a Modern Classic. QT is on key with his second direction.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Alot of people talk about how this movie revitalized John Travolta's career, but the best parts of this movie are the roles played by Harvey Kietel and Samuel L. Jackson. The movie may push the limits for some viewers, but whatever reality it is in which this story takes place, it is an interesting place to watch. A solid movie.
review by . August 12, 2009
Pulp Fiction
The first time I ever saw Pulp Fiction, I was probably way to young to have been watching it, but my father had no problem introducing me to great cinema.  To this day, I cannot thank him enough for introducing me to this film.  Why is Pulp Fiction, a bloody, violent, foul movie my favorite piece of cinema art of all time?  Well, when you put a cast that includes John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, Ving Rhames, Rosanna Arquette and Christopher Walken …
About the reviewer
Member Since: Dec 16, 2008
Last Login: Jun 7, 2012 07:25 PM UTC
Consider the Source

Use Trust Points to see how much you can rely on this review.

You
Count_Orlok_22
Your ratings:
rate more to improve this
About this movie

Wiki



Pulp Fiction
is a crime drama film released on October 15, 1994 and produced by Miramax Films. The film was directed and written by QuentinTarantino and assisted by Rober Avary.  Pulp Fiction was produced by Lawrence Bender, and starred John Travolta, Uma Thurman, BruceWillis, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette and Christopher Walken.

Pulp Fiction tells the story of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife and a pair of diner bandits that intertwine in four cases of violence.  After its release the film received 40 nominations, and celebrated 43 wins and an Academy Award in 1995for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directy for the Screen.

 It was given an MPAA rating of R and runs 154 minutes.


view wiki
Polls with this movie
8MM

The best Neo-Noirs

by

First to Review
© 2014 Lunch.com, LLC All Rights Reserved
Lunch.com - Relevant reviews by real people.
Dark Souls and Hollow Hearts is part of the Lunch.com Network - Get this on your site
()
This is you!
Ranked #
Last login
Member since
reviews
comments
ratings
questions
compliments
lists