Vol. 1 (2003)
Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:1/2
minor plot points revealed!
I was excited to see Kill Bill. Very Excited. The previews started about a year ago and even knowing nothing about it at all, the brief glimpses of half completed scenes were enough to convince me that I would love this movie. Then, for a while, I forgot about it. A couple months ago I read a story that said that they were going to break it into two volumes because it was too long to present as one single film. This is the kind of news I love to hear. Finally, a studio decided to let a film run it's full length instead of chopping it down to meet the standard and limited attention span of the American audience. Personally I would have loved to see the whole 3.5 or 4 hour version but I sort of understand that some people apparently have more important things to do with their time. Finally, Kill Bill is here and it is, without exaggeration, The Coolest Film Ever Made.
I was so happy as I watched this movie that I could have exploded with joy. I sat on the edge of my seat giggling with glee through every chapter. It will definitely be in my top 5 movie experiences of the year. This film is so awesome that I actually had to force myself not to spend the entire day watching it over and over and over. It is already one of my all time favorite movies ever. I can barely stand the fact that I have to wait until February 20th to see it end. Of course I'm also giddy with anticipation for the final chapters of the Matrix and Lord of the Rings Trilogies, but now I actually have my first film of the new year to live for.
Kill Bill is the 4th film from 90's sensation Quentin Tarantino. I loved all of QT's previous films. The ones he wrote and directed (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) and the ones he just wrote (True Romance, Natural Born Killers.) All of these are excellent films and if you haven't seen them all then you're really missing out. Of the films he's directed, Pulp Fiction is probably still the most groundbreaking and original, but Kill Bill totally raises the bar on the hipster-cool quotient. It takes the coolest best elements of the last 5 - 10 years of film making and ramps them all up beyond the nth degree. It doesn't steal things like the bullet time effect of the Matrix films or the incredible wire assisted sword fights of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but rather uses these influences to create a new original action based on their teachings. Tarantino has forever been an homage expert and the only difference now is that his influences are more contemporary. He even references himself (The DiVAS are basically Fox Force Five.)
To summarize the story, Uma Thurman plays The Bride, a former lover of Bill and member of Bill's elite Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. After a falling out, The Bride decides to leave Bill and The DiVAS. At her wedding rehearsal, while she is with child, Bill and the DiVAS kill her fiance, the entire bridal party and after beating her to the brink of death Bill shoots her in the head. (This is not a spoiler since it all happens in the first 30 seconds of the film.) The Bride, however, does not die. She is in a coma for 4 years and upon waking immediately sets upon her revenge. She scribbles out a list of the 4 members of The DiVAS and saves number 5 for Bill himself. This is her To-Do List and the rest of this movie, and presumably all of the next, involves her crossing out the names on that list as violently as possible along with anyone and everyone who gets in her way.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - The new action hero roles are best when filled by insanely sexy women. Sure it's fun to see new comers like The Rock and Jason Statham (The Transporter) being groomed as the next action heroes but honestly, given the choice, I would rather see a action flick staring Lucy Liu or even Chiaki Kuriyama. It's just way more fun to see a totally hot chick wasting the bad guys. With that first kick during the opening sequence of The Matrix, Trinity completely changed my image of the action hero. Now Quentin has taken the idea and made an entire film around it, and it's even better than you can imagine.
Kill Bill is one of the goriest films released in years. I'm surprised it was able to pull an R rating and I hope to God that the DVD version is the unedited director's cut. It's cartoonish in it's violence and much like The Matrix, is strongly influenced by anime. When a head is chopped off or a limb is severed (and this happens too many times to count) the fountain of blood is hilariously over the top. Reminiscent of the blood and gore fountains in Sam Raimi's Evil Dead films or Peter Jackson's Dead Alive and Bad Taste. It's important to keep in mind here that Tarantino's violence always exists just outside of reality. It's violence as pure entertainment and not to be taken seriously. If you read or hear any complaints from people who were offended by the film you can immediately write off their stupid opinions as they are obviously ignorant cretins who didn't understand the movie.
The actors are all completely in tune with the spirit of the film and very well chosen for their roles. Uma Thurman, favorite muse of Tarantino, is The Bride. I like Uma in Quentin's movies and I liked her in Gattaca but I'm not a huge fan. Since the role was obviously written for her, she is perfect for it. The rest of the DiVAS are expertly cast as well. Vivica A. Fox is totally sexy as Vernita Green. I've been in love with her ever since Independence Day. Daryl Hannah is completely unrecognizable as Elle Driver and totally cool. Her part will be larger in the next film as she is one of the names on the Bride's list that hasn't been crossed off yet. Michael Madsen, also one of Tarantino's crew, seems to be channeling his Mr. Blonde character from Reservoir Dogs to play Budd. This seems to be the only character he knows how to play and he's good at it so hurray for Michael. And finally, my personal favorite of the DiVAS...O-Ren Ishii is played by the stunningly gorgeous and super-coolest of the cool, Lucy Liu. I have loved Lucy Liu ever since I first saw her in a 1996 episode of the X-Files called "Hell Money." But it was in the Charlie's Angels movie as Alex Munday that I became obsessed with her. Lucy Liu is one of the best action babes of all time. She's smoking hot too! I absolutely loved every single scene she's in including the anime biography of her childhood. Coming in a close second in foxy perfection is her entourage, especially her personal bodyguard Go Go Yubari played by Chiaki Kuriyama. Go Go is so distractingly cute and cool that it is difficult to actually focus your eyes on her.
Other characters in the film are equally fun to watch like Hong Kong Street Fighter Sonny Chiba as the master swordsmith Hattori Hanzo. His participation in the film elevates it to yet another strata of cool. David Carradine is the title character Bill and will have a bigger part in the next film as he is number 5 on The List. Not-so-young-anymore Grasshopper will get what's coming to him.
In closing let me say that I know that most people will either have no interest in this film or not like it very much after they see it. I understand, as did the filmmakers, that the audience for a movie like this fills a very particular niche. I am deeply immersed in this niche so for me it's almost as if this movie was made specifically for my personal amusement. If you like it even one tenth as much as I did you will probably have a good time at the movie. For me it was one of those rare moments of grace and perfection on film.