|10-14-2003, 02:00 AM||#1|
This is arguably the most anticipated movie of this year, maybe even this decade. It has taken Quentin Tarantino six years to make his first movie since the much under-appreciated Jackie Brown. What has taken so long? Well, Warren Beatty was originally going to play Bill, but after Quentin said that he wanted him to play his part like David Carradine, Beatty suggested that he should get David Carradine, and that’s exactly what he did. Star Uma Thurman got pregnant shortly after, and since Quentin wrote the 222-page screenplay just for her, he decided to wait another year and a half to go into production. After filming went months over schedule and millions over budget, Miramax boss Harvey Weinstein proposed to split Kill Bill into two movies. Not wanting to cut anything out of the film, Quentin agreed.
So is the film worth the wait and does it live up to it’s hype? The answer to both questions are YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!
I can’t even begin to explain to you how cool this movie is, so let me start with the synopsis. WARNING: depending on how much you know, this review may contain spoilers.
Uma plays The Bride(her name is bleeped out every time someone says it), one of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS), led by Bill (David Carradine). After years of being an assassin, she decides she wants out (which will probably be explained in Vol 2, they don’t even skim the reasons here). Trying to start a new life she is pregnant and getting married. On her wedding day, Bill and the rest of the Viper Squad find her and kill everyone including her unborn baby. Except they didn’t kill her, she has been in a coma for 4 years, then she awakes and goes on a “roaring rampage of revenge”, determined to kill all five of the remaining Viper Squad.
After letting us know that the film is presented in Shaw Scope (a reference to the old Shaw Bros. kung fu films from the 70’s), a scripture appears reading “Revenge is a dish, best served cold” - an old Klingon proverb (a reference to Star Trek 2). These in-jokes will make movie buffs chuckle only to be rudely interrupted by seeing a close-up of Uma Thurman’s bloody face in black and white. She is spoken to by an unseen Bill, who shoots her in the head right after Uma says,”Bill, it’s your baby” Then the words: THE FOURTH FILM BY QUENTIN TARANTINO. It’s a hell of an opening and just a warm up of what’s to come. The film is presented in Chapters, and there are five in volume 1.
Chapter 1 - 2. This Chapter contains the showdown between The Bride and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox). The scene starts off with a brutal, perfect brawl that is interrupted by Vernita’s daughter coming home from school. The previews make this scene seem funny, it’s not. This is a very awkward and uncomfortable scene that oozes with tension. After Vernita tells her daughter to wait in her room, the two discuss about when they will meet for a final duel. This scene has some great dialogue obviously inspired by 70’s exploitation flicks like Switchblade Sisters. I won’t be giving anything away that this conversation ends with someone dying. Hint: it ain’t Uma.
Chapter 2 - THE BLOOD SPLATTERED BRIDE. We go back in time four years ago shortly after the wedding massacre. Uma is comatose in a hospital bed and in her only scene in this volume, Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) attempts to kill the bride with a deadly serum, only to be called off at the last minute by Bill himself because he thinks that it isn’t honorable to kill someone while they’re down. Four years later she wakes up and escapes.
Chapter 3 - THE ORIGIN OF O-REN ISHI. This is the origin story of Uma’s first victim on her “death list five”, O-Ren (Lucy Liu). This sequence is entirely in japanese animation and very brutal.
Chapter 4 - THE MAN FROM OKINAWA. This is when The Bride finds a man name Hattori Hanzo, an expert at making samurai swords, who has retired. She needs a sword to do her killing and after some convincing he agrees.
Chapter 5 - SHOWDOWN AT THE HOUSE OF BLUE LEAVES. This is the chapter everyone has been waiting for, in which The Bride fights with O-Ren and her army, the Crazy 88.
This movie is perfect in every way, let’s start with the acting. Uma Thurman has never been better! She delivers her cheesy lines of revenge like an action pro, “Bitch! You can stop right there!”, is one of my faves but she also generates a lot of emotion like in the scene when the bride first awakens and is mortified when she discovers that her baby is gone. It’s a heartbreaking 30-second shot that gave me goose bumps all three times I’ve seen it. She is also a genuine action hero, making the perfect facial expressions when engaging in combat. Lucy Liu is solid as O-ren. There isn’t much range in her performance, but she’s fun to watch. Vivica A. Fox is even better with limited screen time. She’s bitchy, she’s feisty, she’s funny, she even shows a little compassion. Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo is flawless, showing both warmth and humor in his portrayal of an aging swordsman, making his scenes among the best in the film. As O-Ren’s bodyguard, Battle Royale’s Chiaki Kuriyama is Go-go Yubari, a schoolgirl with a flying guillotine, is one of the screen’s best henchmen. Julie Dreyfus as O-Ren’s assistant Sofie, is so beautiful to look at that you almost feel bad for her when the Bride cuts off one of her body parts. Daryl Hannah is pretty good in her only scene, but I’ll wait to judge her performance in volume 2. Michael Madsen is only shown in glimpses so there isn’t anything to judge here, he’ll be in volume 2 much more as will David Carradine as Bill, who is only seen from the neck down in this movie, but it was a smart decision. Because he is unseen, and we only hear is voice (which is rich and smooth as a jar of honey), we feel a real sense of menace. Jackie Brown’s Michael Bowen has a small part as an orderly pimping out a comatose Thurman. He could possibly be the sleaziest villain this year. Michael Parks also has a fun cameo in what appears to be him reprising his “From Dusk Till Dawn” character.
The movie looks great, shot in bright colors and some sequences in black and white. There is a great tracking shot that is about 2 minutes and reminded me alot of director Brian De Palma. Speaking of De Palma, there are some brilliant uses of split-screen in this thing too. Quentin also made a ballsy move by shooting almost half the movie in Japanese which gives it a very authentic feel.
The movie, however, would only be half as good if it had different music. Using music from old kung-fu movies and speggetti westerns, some rockabilly, and 70’s funk, making the movie so cool to watch. The music is the film’s beating heart, without it, it would die.
Quentin has made a revenge movie that could only exist in his mind, genre hopping from speggetti westerns to blaxploitation, to kung fu flicks.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is a beautiful sequence in which The Bride is looking at Hattori Hanzo’s selection of swords, it’s a great build up for what’s to come. And that is the soon-to-be-legendary showdown at the House of Blue Leaves (which is the hang out of O-Ren and the Crazy 88). This 20 minute sword fight is one of the best ever to smear across the screen. Heads, arm, legs, everything comes off in this fight. Someone is even split in half!!!!! Even though it is extremely violent, it’s hard to take it seriously because it’s so over the top. Blood gushes out of people like a fire hydrant. It starts off in color only to turn to black in white about seven minutes into it, then after a few minutes of bloodletting, the bride blinks her eyes and it’s color again. The last part of the fight all you can see are the silhouettes of the fighters which is very stylish and exciting. After the battle with the Crazy 88’s, the bride fights O-Ren. It’s not a very long fight but is very beautiful taking place in a room that has fake snow. The last line of this fight made me want to cheer at the top of my lungs.
There has been alot of talk about weather this movie holds it’s own or does it feel unfinished. I really thought it ended perfectly, and contains a better cliffhanger than the Matrix Reloaded. I had my doubts at first about the split, but now I know that Quentin was right to agree, it really does seem like it’s own movie. Kill Bill: Volume 1 is the best movie this year(or even the past five years) and I don’t think I’ll see a better one until Volume 2 on February 20th.
KILL BILL: VOLUME 1
- Written and Directed by Quentin Tarantino (Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction)
- Rated R for Bloody violence, gore, strong language, sexual themes.
- Aspect Ratio - (2:35)
**** (out of four stars)
|11-03-2003, 07:47 AM||#2|
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Monster Island, somewhere in the South Pacific
HK FLIX has a niffty little KILL BILL "Study Guide" which spotlights and highlights the various Asian film homages that can be found in the new TARANTINO movie. Check it out, it's pretty cool. See if you guessed them all.
>>> KILL BILL STUDY GUIDE <<<
That was Zen. This is Tao.
|07-20-2008, 05:57 AM||#3|
Join Date: Jul 2008
Tied with 'The Lion King' and 'The Shawshank Redemption' as being my favorite movie ever. 'Kill Bill' is just a fantastic, brilliant, respectful piece of work and I cannot hold it closer to my heart. So beautifully, awesomely, and hilarious told and shot, truly a modern masterpiece of cinema. A+
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