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Kill Bill Vol. 1

The first half of Quentin Tanrantino's epic female revenge saga.

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Kill Bill: Vol. 1; Tarantino Returns With a Vengeance

  • Apr 13, 2004
  • by
Rating:
+5
Pros: Pros: Great plotline; Fun, fun, fun to watch…

Cons: Flirts with gratuitous violence.

The Bottom Line: Despite the (at times) unreal feel of Kill Bill Vol. 1, I walked away from the movie feeling a guilty pleasure in having watched it...

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

Quentin Tarantino is back. Back in the director's seat where he most assuredly belongs, away from ill-advised forays into the acting arena, and he has thankfully has returned, quite literally, with a vengeance. Kill Bill: Vol.1 (Volume 2 to be released on April 16th) is predicated on the formulaic ruse of any 1970’s Hong Kong kung-fu film worth its P’s & Q’s—sweet, sweet, blood trenched revenge. And just for good measure, Tarantino artfully glommed onto the latest Japanese Anime craze and produced a movie worthy of his name and reputation.

Uma Thurman is The Bride a.k.a. Black Mamba who is very pregnant and ready to walk down the aisle, witnesses the slaughter of her entire wedding party, before she herself is savagely beaten and then shot in the head and left for dead by her former associates (The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad) led by—you guessed it—Bill (David Carradine). After waking from a four-year coma, The Bride—whose real name is never given and is bleeped out when spoken on screen—thirsts for revenge, for retribution, for redress of the wrongs done her in the name of, what, we are never told.

Thus begins the trail of blood, guts, heroics, light humor, and seriously spectacular sword play that is Kill Bill: Vol.1. The Bride’s first mark is actually O-Ren Ishi or Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu), who has—in the proceeding four years—risen to the top of the notorious Japanese underworld to become head of Japan's biggest yakuza gang. In an overly long and delicious scene that would do any student of Hong Kong Kung-Fu movies proud, Black Mambo dispatches a virtual army of Cottonmouth’s underlings before the rather anti-climatic match with the woman in white herself.

But first to die on screen however, is The Bride’s second mark Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox). The two engage in a knock down, drag out brawl that would shame Sly Stallone, ending in a edge-of-your-seat knife fight, interrupted by the appearance of Copperheads four-year-old daughter...enough said…

Kill Bill: Vol.1 should not be confused with such honor bound Kung-Fu (martial arts) movies like Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), or Zhang Yimou's Hero (2002) whose fights are beautiful ballet-like choreographed martial arts extravaganzas. No, in Tarantino's world the fights with gleaming Samurai swords are more gory; more street brawl; limbs are unabashedly severed, blood flows, and squirts in over-exaggerated brilliance, as foes are dispatched in passionless aplomb. In Tarantino’s world beauty is replaced by the nakedness of humanities ugliness towards itself. There is no room for honor, only single-minded determination to fulfill ones own designs, however wicked their purpose. But it works, I found myself embracing Uma’s character, rooting for her, despite the apparent wrongness of her actions.

And speaking of Uma Thurman, the exotic blonde with the piercing blue eyes and overly wide nose woman I feel in love with in the Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), and Dangerous Liaisons (1988) is sinfully good in her role as The Bride. Thurman pulls off her roll with surprising assurance as if were born to the role of hired assassin, though the part is unlike any other she has heretofore portrayed. Tarantino’s close-ups of Thurman’s face be it clean or coated with blood, testifies to the actresses unpretentious air of craft.

The remaining cast of characters for this romp is magnetic, and aptly chosen. First, there is Kung-Fu legend (at least on television) David Carradine, as Bill—although we never see his face and only hear his voice in this installment, but will no doubt play a central role in Volume 2. Next, up is veteran Japanese action star, Sonny Chiba, as Hattori Hanzo—the celebrated master Samurai sword-maker who reluctantly crafts a sword for The Bride made with “Japanese steel” for her mission of vengeance. Most intriguing is 19-year-old Chiaki Kuriyama as Cottonmouth’s bodyguard. Throughout the film Kuriyama is dressed a Japanese schoolgirl, and at one point wields a pretty nasty steel ball and chain. She plays her role with an intensity that chills, and a maturity destined to make he a star of note in the future.

I touched on the violence in this film earlier, and those used to Tarantino’s brand of bloodshed will not be disappointed in this installment of Kill Bill. The violence in this installment flirts with gratuity and only occasionally crosses the (comic book) line; the fountains of blood that spray from severed limbs is a bit much, but in keeping with the tradition of the genre Tarantino is emulating. More disturbing perhaps is revelation early in the film that The Bride’s comatose body has been sold repeatedly for sex to anyone willing to ride, by a stereo-typical redneck with more hormones, then morals or common-sense.

Her reckoning with this man is brutal and we are allowed to watch as unflinchingly and equally unfeeling, she shatters his head between a door and doorframe, after severing his ankle tendon with pocket knife, bringing him to heel. The whole scene is surreal because not once through all the noise does anyone in the hospital come to his rescue. But then again, surreal describes the tenor of the entire movie. Where else but in a Tarantino movie can someone carry a samurai sword open handed onto a plane and through an airport, or kill a man in a hospital and then sit in his car for thirteen hours, without encountering nary a cop?

Despite the unreal feel of Kill Bill Vol. 1, I walked away from the movie feeling a guilty pleasure in having watched it, like getting my hand caught down the dress of a paramour not my beloved. Dare I say that Kill Bill Vol. 1 was fun to watch? So much so that I eagerly await the release of the final chapter for more of Uma’s revenge.

Recommended:
Yes

Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Fit for Friday Evening
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Kill Bill Vol. 1 reviews
review by . September 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I would have to hesitate in calling any movie perfect, but if I were forced to pick one example of a flick that was near perfect for me, it would have to be Kill Bill Vol.'s 1&2.  These two films (well really one cut in half) embody everything that I love in a movie going experience; it's amazingly stylistic, there's a ton of action, there's plenty of plot and character development, it's gory and exploitative, yet light and silly at times, it's story is well versed …
Quick Tip by . October 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Has a very curious, very neat feel, like a cross between lots of different genres, and it works great.
Quick Tip by . July 24, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
First half of Tarantino's homage to spaghetti westerns and chop socky movies has Volume 1 carrying the action and literal buckets of blood with a woman on a quest for revenge. Lacks Tarantino's dialouge, but saves it for Vol 2.
Quick Tip by . July 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I like the chapter format of Tanrantino's, it allows him to entertain a much more faceted story. Kill Bill is one of the easiest film through which to initiate new fans to his work.
Quick Tip by . July 22, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Leave it to Tarantino to make the sexiest fighters in filmography - Vivica A, Fox, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah and Uma Thurman are to die for.
Quick Tip by . July 20, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The sleek and remarkable plot thrusts you straight into a tale of revenge and endurance. Every second means something.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
My boyfriend told me I reminded him of Uma Thurman (I don't look like her, but whatever) and it was the best compliment I've ever gotten. I just rewatched these movie, and oh wow. I just love them to pieces. I think I like the second part better, but the whole thing get an A+.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Tarantino's best- the mix of a western, a japnese comic book drama, and a dark comedy. It all comes together.
Quick Tip by . June 23, 2010
Love it!
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2010
Love this!
About the reviewer
Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #194
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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About this movie

Wiki

Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Writer:  Quentin Tarantino
2003

Product Description
The acclaimed fourth film from groundbreaking writer and director Quentin Tarantino (PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN), KILL BILL VOLUME 1 stars Uma Thurman (PULP FICTION), Lucy Liu (CHARLIE'S ANGELS, CHICAGO), and Vivica A. Fox (TWO CAN PLAY THAT GAME) in an astonishing, action-packed thriller about brutal betrayal and an epic vendetta! Four years after taking a bullet in the head at her own wedding, The Bride (Thurman) emerges from a coma and decides it's time for payback ... with a vengeance! Having been gunned down by her former boss (David Carradine) and his deadly squad of international assassins, it's a kill-or-be-killed fight she didn't start but is determined to finish! Loaded with explosive action and outrageous humor, it's a must-see motion picture event that has critics everywhere raving!
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Details

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Action, Drama, Western, Animation, Adventure
Release Date: October 10, 2003
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Runtime: 1hr 47min
Studio: Miramax Films, A Band Apart
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