Kill Bill-Teaser

Reservoir Dogs

Pulp Fiction

Salma Hayek


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Uma gets ready to kill the box-office

Kill Bill: Volume 1
Review written by: Alex Sandell

It's been an agonizing six years since Quentin Tarantino released his last film, Jackie Brown.  Being that Brown was adapted from an Elmore Leonard novel, and was rather tame by Tarantino standards, it's actually been close to a decade since a "pure" Quentin film was unleashed upon an unknowing public.  Is Kill Bill:  Volume 1 worth the wait?  Imagine if, after waiting all those years for the Star Wars prequels, we received an Empire Strikes Back rather than a Phantom Menace.  That's Kill Bill.  It's Lucas gone to the dark side, rather than to Jar Jar Binks and juvenile fart jokes.

Kill Bill is the mongrel son of 10,000 violent movies, 50,000 graphic novels and 1,000,000 pages of pulp fiction.  Splatter everything cool, mesmeric and exploitative that you've ever watched or imagined against a gigantic wall, collect the ooze onto a couple of hundred pages, strain it until all that's left is words, and you might come up with something close to Kill Bill:  Volume 1.  This isn't just the movie you've been waiting for from Quentin Tarantino.  This is the movie you've been waiting for, period.

The story is simple. The Bride (Uma Thurman) was once a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS).  The DiVAS later attempt to kill her - presumably under orders from Bill (David Carradine). Flash-forward four years, when the Bride finally wakes from her coma, immediately pushed into a fight with a couple of perverse horn-dogs abusing their "coma privileges." It isn't long before she realizes that her wedding was sabotaged, her friends were murdered, and her unborn child is presumably dead.  

The bride isn't happy. 

She's going to make sure the five people that tried to kill her will all be wishing that they had finished the job when they had the chance.  And so the blood bath begins...

Kill Bill is to Pulp Fiction as Pulp Fiction was to On Golden Pond.  Okay, maybe that last line was a bit of a stretch, but this is the most violent "R" rated picture ever released.  Kill Bill reinvents the genre of guts, blood and revenge by simply adding more blood, more guts and more cold-hearted revenge. 

Kill Bill is a movie that knows it's a movie, but still doesn't give a shit.  This may be the first self-aware film to come with a built-in temper.  The screen is packed so full of bodily fluids and bile-spewing boldness, it sometimes feels as though it's about to burst open and pour its contents out over its unwary audience, submerging them in its hatred. 

At least they'll drown laughing.

As soon as Quentin attributes the film's opening quote, "Revenge is a dish best served cold" to Star Trek's Klingons, you'll know the director still has his pop-culture tongue firmly planted in video-store cheek.  There are some hilarious scenes (wait for the school bus to come home during the knife fight between Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox) in Kill Bill.  This flick isn't all guns, swords and gore. Just most of it is.

Fortunately, 100% of the movie is creative. Tarantino tells the story of the young O-Ren Ishi (Lucy Liu) entirely through anime.  The anime is as sumptuous as anime gets.  It's also filled with so many blood geysers that you'd swear you were visiting Old Faithful on the day of its very first aneurysm. 

As visually stimulating as it all is, there is something else going on here.  Good old fashioned character development is happening right before your eyes.  You can't help feeling sympathy for the young O-Ren Ishi, as she hides under the bed, with her slaughtered mother's blood raining down upon her.  Sure, the vulnerable young girl grows up to become the primary villain of Kill Bill:  Volume 1, but O-Ren Ishi is not a one-dimensional "enemy" any more than the Bride is a one-dimensional "heroine." 

When these two fully realized characters come together for their climatic on-screen confrontation, it is quite possibly the most beautiful fight ever put on film.  It's snow-filled and wonderful and tense, all at the same time.  It's been decades since a director so successfully pulled off such conflicted imagery (Hitchcock's Vertigo comes to mind). 

It isn't just Tarantino that makes this scene as powerful as it is.  The actresses trained for months, and it shows on the big screen.  Uma and Lucy know their way around a Samurai Sword.  This one is gonna win the Best Fight (or whatever it is) award at the MTV Movie Awards next year... unless the fight immediately preceding it takes home the popcorn trophy.

Before facing O-Ren Ishi, the Bride must cut her way through a gang of 88 masked maniacs that Ishi controls. To keep this marvelously choreographed fight from growing stale, Quentin films a good portion of it in black & white.  He films another section of this epic brawl in beautiful silhouette with a blazing blue backdrop. 

Not even a roomful of baddies seem to intimidate the Bride, and that's why she's bound to be a pop-culture icon for decades to come.  She's Clint Eastwood's "Man with No Name" without the gun and whiskers and with a sword and pair of tits. 

The only gripe I have with Kill Bill is that it wasn't released as one 3 hour movie.  Imagine if Sergio Leone had first released "The Good" and "the Bad" before giving us "the Ugly."  Like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Kill Bill was not a film meant to be watched in pieces. 

I'd like to watch the movie as a whole - not as a "volume." Nevertheless, if Volume 2 brings Kill Bill together into one solid story as intriguing and memorable as Pulp Fiction and as vibrant and colorful as what's been given to us in Kill Bill:  Volume 1 - Quentin Tarantino may have just written and directed his best film yet. 

On a scale of 1-10?


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Coming soon -- Reviews of The Matrix Revolutions, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Runaway Jury!

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Text (Copyright) 2003 Alex Sandell [All Rights Reserved].