Wednesday, December 5, 2012

#842. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox

Tag line: "On October 10th, speak softly and carry a big sword"

Trivia:  Quentin Tarantino delayed the start of the production because Uma Thurman was pregnant

Back when Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill was still a work in progress, the decision was made to split the story into two separate films. At the time, I read one of the reasons for doing so was studio apprehension, namely the fear that audience members would not be willing to sit through a 3+ hour kung-fu action movie. 

If this rumor is true, then I couldn't disagree more. When the final credits rolled on Kill Bill Vol. 1, I had a hard time convincing myself to get out of my seat and leave the theater. At that moment, I was more than ready for Vol. 2

Kill Bill Vol. 1 had completely, utterly, and quite enthusiastically blown me away.

Betrayed by her former associates and left for dead in an El Paso wedding chapel, The Bride (Uma Thurman), a retired (and very pregnant) assassin, awakens from a 4-year-long coma and vows revenge. 

To satisfy her thirst for vengeance, she systematically seeks out every member of the now-dissolved Viper Assassination Squad; Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) and Bud (Michael Madsen), 

Rounding out her list is former boss and lover, Bill (David Carradine), leader of the Vipers, who personally put a bullet in her head on that fateful day.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 is an incredible action film with a distinctly Asian flavor (I couldn’t help but smile when the Shaw Brothers logo popped up at the beginning), and Tarantino wastes no time getting down to business. In an early scene, we witness a bloody fight between the Bride and Vernita Green, who is now a housewife with a 4-year-old daughter (Ambrosia Kelley). 
In typical Tarantino fashion, this battle is actually the second one chronologically (when the Bride reviews her “Death List”, we notice O-ren Ishii’s name has already been crossed off it, and we don’t see that epic confrontation until the finale). 

As he did in both Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Tarantino jumbles the timeline in Kill Bill Vol. 1 while simultaneously providing a truckload of backstory for his characters, well after the action is already underway. We get flashbacks galore throughout the movie, including the story of O-Ren Ishii’s rise to power in the Yakuza (by way of a terrifically violent anime sequence) as well as the police investigation - headed up by Sheriff Earl McGraw (Michael Parks) - into what transpired at the Wedding Chapel. 

As master sword maker Hattori Honzo (played by Sonny Chiba) says at one point, “Revenge is never a straight line”. And yet, despite the fact we see it in fragments, Tarantino covers all the bases, ensuring that, by the time the credits rolled on Vol. 1, we were tuned in to the entire story

…every glorious minute of it!

1 comment:

Anthony Lee Collins said...

I saw each part of Kill Bill three times in theaters (which beats out everything but eXistenZ, which I saw four times). This was what won me over about Tarantino. The earlier films were good, but it was obvious that my opinion of his films was nowhere near as high as his own. A co-worker was as obsessed as I was, and we spent a lot of working time (only on breaks, of course :-) ) checking for trailers for Vol. 2.

I wrote about both movies here: