Release: October 10, 2003
by Kevin Lang
"Kill Bill" was a film that existed in a world all of its own. It was world where the seventies oozed through the pores of the present to create a fusion between two different eras of filmmaking. It was also a world where Quentin Tarantino could pay tribute to his favorite film genres and their stars. He found some success in doing this, but he ultimately failed to create a story strong enough to lure me inside this world with him.
The story that existed surrounded the main character of Black Mamba, played coolly by Uma Thurman. She was also known as The Bride, having been left for dead with her wedding party, who were all executed in the church on her wedding day. Bill, who led an elite team of assassins known as The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, gave her the final bullet to the head that put her into a four-year coma. She woke up and began to seek vengeance on the five individuals responsible, crossing each one off of her death list. What I never came to understand was why did the Assassination Squad want her dead in the first place? The movie never really explained this, and it would have helped the story if it did. Instead, most of the time was spent browsing the back-story of The Bride's attackers, instead of filling us in more on who The Bride was, being that the story revolved around her as much as it did.
I do want to mention however, an excellent animation sequence that Quentin Tarantino used to tell the back-story of O-Ren Ishi played by Luci Liu. This was probably the part of the film that I enjoyed most. The young Ishi hid under her bed and watched Japanese hitmen murder her parents. Her mother was stabbed with a sword through the bed, and her blood soaked through the mattress, dripping onto Ishi. It was the only part of the film that evoked any real emotion in me, other than the attempted murder of the bride at the beginning, which caught my attention as she suffered on the floor of the church before taking the bullet to the head.
From the opening of the film, it was obvious that Quentin Tarantino loves movies, especially seventy's Kung Fu films. For "Kill Bill: Volume 1," he revived action star legend Sonny Chiba and in "Volume 2," due out in February, he brought back David Carradine (we never saw his face in "Volume 1," we only heard his voice). This is without mentioning the seventies style cars, music, and costumes, such as Daryl Hannah's out of place nurse outfit, which none of the other hospital workers seemed to notice. This blending of genres was a risk that barely worked. At times, the characters reminded me of my own parents, whose clothing style has never seemed to evolve past 1972 (just kidding mom).
Like in Quentin Tarantino's previous films, "Kill Bill" again contained a catchy musical soundtrack. At times, it even seemed as if the beats and rhythms themselves were telling the story, highlighting the character's expressions and emotions. However, during other moments, the music seemed to be used as a way to restore the film to its level of "cool," which sometimes distracted me from ever really becoming involved in the story.
In the end, "Kill Bill" was an ultra violent action film. In almost every action scene, blood sprayed from the limbs or chopped off heads of The Bride's enemies. It looked a little corny, but I suppose it was meant to mimic some of the kung fu films that Tarantino was paying homage to. This spraying blood worked much better in the cartoon portion of the film, since such things are often exaggerated when they are animated.
was different than most action films of today. It had its own unique style
that some moviegoers may find a little outlandish. I wish that this style
could have been highlighted by a better story. I also wish that the film
had explained the motives of its characters better. Maybe we will learn
why they had tried to kill The Bride in "Volume 2," or maybe
we won't. In any case, "Kill Bill: Volume1" was a film that
on its own, could have been much better.
"Kill Bill: Volume 1" Review written October 10, 2003, CTF.
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