Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Darryl Hannah, Vivica A Fox, Michael Madsen, Sonny Chiba, Gordon Liu
Written By: Quentin Tarantino
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
If there is one film maker that sums up the 1990s it is director Quentin Tarantino.
What Coppola’s “The Godfather” did for gangster movie in the seventies, Tarantino’s first film, Reservoir Dogs did in the nineties. It revitalized the gangster movie genre, not only making it cool again but also giving it a celluloid rebirth. Tarantino was the top film maker of the previous ten years. He bridged the gap between independent film and mainstream box office success. His second film Pulp Fiction blew that outlet wide open.
Pulp Fiction catapulted Tarantino from hot independent Hollywood buzz to hot international superstar, a prime example of how a director became a rock star overnight. His third film, Jackie Brown, although sharp and well done, was overshadowed by the immensely popular Pulp Fiction. Tarantino’s own success was his double edged sword, which may be the reason he waited almost five years to get started on his next project.
So six years and due time has passed, the film maker returns to confirm all rumors with his fourth film, Kill Bill volume 1. Tarantino is a child of serials, growing up on the kung fu and spaghetti westerns of the seventies. As a homage, Tarantino translates everything he ever liked of those two genres and brings it straight to 21st century cinema. In the process he rejuvenates the martial arts flick and gives it an entirely new dimension while making apparent what his film is modeled after. The film is stylized with fine detail and a meticulous nuance. Many of Tarantino’s trademarks are present such as time displacement (not to be confused with flashbacks), his signature camera movements, and of course, gangsters in black and white suits. Tarantino is a true fan of film. He knows the audience understands they are watching a movie so he exploits and takes full advantage of that realization.
Uma Thurman is The Bride, a former assassin maliciously shot at her own wedding by her former employer and members of her assassins circle. She awakens from a coma after four years. Immediately out for blood, The Bride is off on a personal vendetta against all who were present and responsible. This is a martial arts film Tarantino style. It is also a top notch revenge film. The fight sequences are gory, violent, and extravagant production numbers. The film itself is a free for all, a pop culture explosion, and an exploitation of cinema. The characters are life like cartoons, cold blooded killers who are so over the top in personality that they are likable. Kill Bill is fast paced, engrossing, and fun. Allusions to Bruce Lee and martial arts fandom also lurk in the film, from a yellow jump suit worn by Thurman similar to what Lee wore in the fighting sequences he filmed for his last unfinished film. “Game of Death” to the “Kato” mask he donned as the Chinese sidekick slash Limousine driver of the Green Hornet. The sinister and still mysterious Bill is played by David Carradine. Carradine is best known for his role as Cane (the guy who walks the earth, meets people, and gets into strange adventures) of Kung Fu, the popular 70’s television series that was initially designed for and co-developed by Lee. The legendary Sonny Chiba, best known for the Street Fighter series of cult kung fu flicks, also makes an appearance in a memorable character role.
The decision by Miramax to split the movie is not only a marketing scheme to milk more money out of those willing to pay twice the admission for one movie but actually a nod to Hong Kong’s film company Shaw Bros., which often released many of their cult action films in two parts. Kill Bill is a film that has to be told in two parts, volume 1 running at two hours. Volume 2 has a lot to cover including the wedding scene massacre and the back stories of the remaining main characters who are still alive by the end of volume 1. While the first installment dealt with the director’s admiration for martial arts, it is no doubt that the second installment will deal heavily with his admiration of the spaghetti western.
Though Kill Bill is currently flourishing at the box office, it is likely that the movie along with volume 2 will receive the most praise and veneration as a cult rental. The Kill Bill series will be the Tarantino films that will have a very long shelf life in the favorites section of the video store.
Favorite Scenes: The entire 20 minute plus scene in which Uma confronts O-Ren Ishii and her Yakuza army the Crazy 88. The entire segment that features Sonny Chiba. Oh yeah and Vivica A. fox and Lucy Liu are both bootylicious!
Running Time: 111 minutes