Kill Bill Vol. 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Genre: Action/Adventure, Thriller and Crime/Gangster
Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Sonny Chiba
Box Office: $70 million worldwide.
Trivia: Uma Thurman was offered the script to Kill Bill, and her role as “The Bride”, as a 30th Birthday present from Quentin Tarantino.
Memorable Quotes:
The Bride: It’s not what you have, it’s what you think you have.
———————–
The Bride: Those of you lucky enough to have your lives take them with you. However, leave the limbs you’ve lost. They belong to me now. EXCEPT YOU, SOFIE! You stay right where you are!
———————–
The Bride: It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that I’m sorry. But you can take my word for it, your mother had it comin’. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I’ll be waiting.
———————–
The Bride: You can relax for now. I’m not going to murder you in front of your daughter.
Copperhead: That’s being more rational than Bill led me to believe you were capable of.
The Bride: It’s mercy, compassion, and forgiveness I lack; not rationality.

Tarantino has put forth one of the stylishly violent films I’ve ever seen. I felt like I needed a seat belt after only a few minutes.

Is it derivative? Yes, but it achieves a freshness through juxtaposition of Japanese style with Tarantino’s own visual signature. Japanese film buffs will probably notice the stylistic shades of under appreciated Japanese great Seijun Suzuki, with flashy use of color and sets, particularly in the latter scenes. For me, a Suzuki fan, this was a wonderful surprise.

The over the top anime storyline and use of formalist elements (from both Japanese and more traditional schools) not often seen in Hollywood films make what could’ve been Pulp Fiction meets the Shaw Brothers into something new and exciting.

From the black-and-white opening credits to the bloodied battle in snow at the first Volume’s conclusion, “Kill Bill Vol. 1” is a full assault on the senses.

Never before has ANY action movie taken on such a grand and STYLIZED form of violence- that is, violence and gratuitious bloodshed as an art form. Tarantino makes the bloodied limbs and corpses of Uma Thurman’s victims instruments in his symphony of carnage, and uses a PERFECTLY synchronized soundtrack to surround his cast’s movement with emphasis.

I repeatedly found myself saying aloud, “Can they actually put this into film?” The violence was in-your-face, much like “Saving Private Ryan,” and had a similar, queasy effect- but while Saving Private Ryan had a level of “war is ugly” seriousness pervading every aspect of the bloodied action, “Kill Bill Vol. 1” makes every gory scene tongue-in-cheek humor, causing the audience to laugh (in spite of itself) at a seemingly never-ending geyser of blood from a headless corpse, a writhing corpse on a dance floor of crimson, and a box of Kaboom cereal (a nice touch, Quentin!).

“Kill Bill Vol. 1” will not be for every movie goer. Some will be simply unable to see past the violence to appreciate Tarantino’s use of color and stoic symbolism- the characters’ identities are set in stone, and the story’s flimsy plot line (so far- after all, if Pulp Ficion were reviewed by only its midway point, it wouldn’t receive the acclaim it does as a whole!) serve strictly as a framework for an endless barage of beautifully crafted scenework.

Uma Thurman probably should have been out of her league in this film. From suspending disbelief to mere aesthetics, believing that this buxomed beauty could somehow exist as a killing machine would have borderlined absurdity before her performance in this. But we empathize with her, despite our better instincts, her waking up in the hospital is painful, as she’s faced with one nauseating revelation after another, and she’s driven literally to the point of bloodied, vengeful action within mere MINUTES of waking of a four year coma.

Thurman’s performance was of Oscar consideration, because it’s NOT an easy role to play. Even with basic stereotypes, she brings an intensity and believability that’s unlike the genres Tarantino’s film imitates. She’s the lifeblood, the essence the film revolves around. If Thurman failed at enrapturing the audience, the film fails.

Fortunately, she redefines herself as a credible actress, and breathes life into a film that repeatedly downplays the significance of life. In conclusion, if the previews or concept appeals to you at all, you’re going to love this film.

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