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Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Let's see just how rusty I am at the movie review game.

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 *** 1/2
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Written by Quentin Tarantino (story and character) and Uma Thurman (character)
Starring: Uma Thurman, Sonny Chiba, Michael Madsen, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu, and Vivica A. Fox
Rated R (Hundreds of gallons of blood. Literally.)

Quentin Tarantino got screwed over by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1994. Pulp Fiction should have won Best Picture®, hands down. No one film in the last 10 years has had as big an impact on American cinema, for better or worse.

Kill Bill, Vol. 1 will not be nominated for ANY Academy Awards®. It will, however, sweep the MTV Movie Awards, which is slowly but surely becoming more legit than the Oscars®.

I like Tarantino. I liked Reservoir Dogs. I love Pulp Fiction. I thought Jackie Brown was a nice change of pace, but it took some getting used to, as it was an adapted screenplay and not an original Tarantino. From Dusk 'Til Dawn kicks ass. Natural Born Killers, even though Tarantino has pretty much disowned it, is damned funny. True Romance let us know that Tarantino was in love with Elvis and Sonny Chiba. But the thing is, he makes B-Movies. He has amazingly talented casts, fantastic soundtracks, and a wonderful rhythm for dialogue, but he still makes B-Movies. And that's just fine. In fact, I don't want him to stop. I don't want him to take a serious dramatic turn. I don't want him to do sci-fi. He sure as hell doesn't need to do a period piece or superhero movie. Tarantino works in the realm of the B-Movie, which includes:

  • Film Noir

  • Neo-noir

  • Chop-Socky

  • World War II

  • Blaxploitation

  • Spaghetti Westerns

Kill Bill is his Chop-Socky film, and it is fantastic. It is incredibly formulaic, and that makes it great. It breaks zero new ground in terms of plot or story -- hell, it's laid out in the title. Uma Thurman will kill Bill.

Synopsis time!

The Bride (Thurman) and her wedding party were attacked in El Paso four years ago by her former colleagues in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Everyone was killed except for The Bride, AKA Black Mamba. She was pregnant, and, after being shot in the head and falling into a coma, lost her baby, She is now out for revenge. First on the Death List -- O-Ren Iishi, AKA Cottonmouth (Liu) and her kung-fu army, The Crazy 88s. Second is Vernita Green, AKA Copperhead (Fox). The story is not told in that order, per the demands of Tarantino Style.

Now, the movie follows all of the rules of a Chop-Socky Revenge Picture:

  • Clearly-defined reason for revenge

  • Targets that sorely deserve it

  • Boss and sub-boss battles

  • Intricately choreographed fight sequences

  • A bare-minimum of dialogue

  • Lots and lots of yelling

  • The calling of a master (Hattori Hanzo, master swordsmith (Chiba)) out of retirement

  • Multiple levels of revenge

  • The hero almost loses

And, it follows the rules of a Tarantino Picture:

  • The movie is told out of chronological order

  • People swear

  • There is actually less violence than you think you see

Of course, this has plenty of violence, but it's not like Black Hawk Down, which is probably the most violent movie I've ever seen. The violence in Kill Bill hits a cartoonish level. There's no emotional involvement as you see The Bride hacking off the arms, legs and heads of her enemies. Well, that's not entirely accurate -- it's more of an "Oh, SNAP!" emotional reaction, not an "Oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck oh sweet Jesus crap crap crap crap crap what the holy fuck crap oh man I'm gonna be sick" emotional reaction.

I'm going to end the review here, as a) I'm writing it like 3 days after the fact and b) the movie isn't done yet. Well, it's done, but I haven't seen the whole thing.


Go and rent Punch-Drunk Love. If you're not in the mood for 450 gallons of fake blood, that is. Plus, it's an affective movie. Very, very affective. It's been on my mind for awhile. Just see it. And Kill Bill.

Comments by: YACCS