Tarantino is a fan of Asian cinema; samurai films and martial arts seem to have taken a hold on the acclaimed filmmaker. Kill Bill volumes 1 & 2 is his tribute to Asian cinema, even the Shaw brothers logo shows up in the beginning of the films. The MPAA in the U.S. forced Tarantino to cut down the blood and violence to gain an "R" rating. I had to buy the Japanese region-2 releases to see the uncut NC-17 version. Finally, "KILL BILL: The Whole Bloody Affair" is set to be released on dvd with the Japanese version in one dvd set that includes a version where footages from volume 1 and two are edited together.
Volume 1- Four years after taking a bullet in the head at her own wedding, The Bride (Uma Thurman) emerges from a coma and decides it's time for vengeance! Having been gunned down by Bill (David Carradine), and his deadly "viper" squad of assassins, it's a kill or be killed fight that she is determined to finish.
Uncut version includes:
1) Almost 6 minutes more of additional footage. More action and mayhem.
2) Extended Oren-Ishi origin (animated)
3) The Showdown in the "House of Leaves" is in full color, displaying its whole bloody glory. While the theatrical cut's Black & White footage seemed stylish and cool, it was originally intended to be seen in full color.
4) Extended fight footages; scene with the Bride lopping off limbs and heads of a "crazy 88" member. The Bride also cuts a member in half (vertical dismemberment, I'm making up terms). 5) Includes an extra ‘first’ encounter with the young Yakuza member
6) Gogo Yubari's (Chiaki Kuriyama) stabbing of the pervert in the bar is shown in all its bloody details.
7) The continuity issue with Sophie Fatale; The Bride cuts off both her arms. In the theatrical release, the Bride didn't cut off the other arm, which is why I wondered how come Sophie Fatale didn't seem to have arms when she rolled down the hill of dirt.
Volume 2- After crossing off two names in her death list, The Bride takes aim at Budd (Michael Madsen) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), the remaining survivors from the squad of killers who betrayed her four years ago. It all leads up to the climactic confrontation with Bill, The Bride's former master and the man who ordered her execution. However, Bill has an ace up his sleeve... Uncut version includes 1 minute of additional footage. There is an extended cantina scene after the end of the film and the Japanese version has more blood and gore in the encounter with Elle Driver.
This 4-disc set is expected to include a re-cut version that includes footages from both volumes edited together. I guess Tarantino listened to some fans and critics that the film shouldn't have been cut in two parts.
The first volume of the Kill Bill franchise is actually a commentary on how Tarantino loves Asian cinema, Spaghetti westerns and maybe even Japanese Anime. While volume 1 definitely feels more like a chambara film with stars of Chinese Wuxia mixed in (Gordon Liu), Sonny Chiba and legendary fight director; Yuen Woo-Ping (Fearless, Kung Fu Hustle). Kill Bill is more a melting pot of everything you love about Martial Arts Asian films. The Soundtrack taken from Asian greats; such as "The Green Hornet", "Lady Snowblood" and many others. (I could write an essay on this)
Volume 2 feels more like a Tarantino film. The raw attitude, dialogue and grittiness of the proceedings exudes coolness. It also explores the rivalry between The Bride and Elle Driver as well as her relationship with Bill. Tarantino's films may be a bit "talkie" at times but it didn't really hurt the film either. I wonder how he draws the line in the amount of references he puts in a movie.
The only complaint I have with "Kill Bill" is that the finale isn't as climactic as I wanted it to be. The encounter with Bill may carry a lot of emotional sense but the showdown isn't what it was built up to be. Thankfully, the bloody fight with Elle Driver saves the film for me. Anyway, with this minor complaint, Kill Bill is a near-excellent outing for Tarantino. I don't care if you like volume 1 better than volume two or vice versa. Kill Bill may not be Tarantino's best, but I'm really happy that the uncut versions is finally set for U.S. audiences. (I do hope that this will be the last postponement, originally scheduled for Christmas 2007)
I will update this review once I see the re-cut edition. (I guess this is more of a shout-out than anything else!)
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! [4 ½ Stars]
Fight scene-Japanese colored version:
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