Kill Bill Volumes 1/2
This is a tail of revenge, which is certainly a dish best served cold. The bride (played by Uma Thurman) arises after a 4-year, Bill induced coma. Being pregnant before the coma her baby is now ‘gone’ and using all her skills, given to her by Bill she must track down and assassinate all the members of her former assassin team known as the vipers. Her codename was the black mamba and living up to her namesake, she will quickly work her way up her list to Bill.
This is the perfect setting for Q. Tarantino to work his magic. The questions on the tip of everyone’s tongues is 'does it live up to the scratch of other Tarantino movies' and even more so to develop that question, 'is it a Tarantino classic?'. Both very good, reasonable questions and I'll answer them with a reasonable response. Yes, in my opinion it does live up to his other work even surpassing the weaker pieces. Now the main question. The trick about this question is its trying to disguise how basic the question really is. Really what it's truly asking in his elegant way is 'is it a good movie?'. Yes! Yes! Yes! It’s not only just good it’s a brilliant movie in all respects. An action movie that creates levels of adrenalin not usually plausible to experience.
This movies tone is set at the start of the movie as it zooms in on the brides, broken and busted face, in black and white (the prelude to sin city perhaps) and lingers just for a moment, then moves on to tell us the exposition of the story. A bride, who at her wedding, her entire reception is massacred including (so they thought) her. The scene instantly shifts to the bride and the first name on the list, Vernita Green (Vivicia fox). Let the action packed fight scene commence. The movie suddenly breaks up the fight scene when the bride’s foes daughter returns home. In this more superhero, comic book kind of universe Vernita (Vivica fox) can fire a gunshot without it causing a major disturbance. This movie is set in an alternative universe slightly altered from our own.
Something sometimes forgotten about in this movie, but is not entirely surprising to hear, is how amazing the soundtrack to this movie is. With special mention to the brilliant Bang Bang by Nancy Sinatra which helps to evoke western themes in the audience, and the theme of betrayal. Bravo Tarantino, the music is brilliant as always.
The casting was one of the best things about the movie. Lucy Liu (O-Ren ishi) was a brilliant touch this movie completely blowing critics and audiences expectations out of the water. I like many others expected her to rehash her character from Charlie's angels but as many others were, I was pleasantly surprised. There was one scene in the movie, O Ren Ishi had finally accumulated her way to the top, now she has nothing in her way. That is until one member of the council mentions her American-Chinese heritage. Poor choice. In response to this she takes out her katana and takes his head off showing she means business. Her performance was chilling but likable.
Uma Thurman the stunning lead (the bride) has an amazing screen presence that really carries the movie and she has some acting chops to boot; a female equivalent to Keanu Reeves in the matrix.
Also, just to mention his contribution to the movie Sonny Chiba (Hattori Hanzo) the legendary katana maker who made a sacred vowel to never make a weapon to kill again but will break this vowel in the casus belli of revenge.
This first volume in Kill Bill chronology focuses on more eastern themes the way of the Samurai and its inevitable conclusion is the fight between the bride and O-Ren on Japanese soil. The Caucasian bride ironically revels in this atmosphere and theme. This leads to easily the best action scene in the movie as the bombshell blonde completely eradicates the Crazy88 gang and their master. Bloody. Gory. Tarantino at his best.
Overall if I had to rate this movie standing on its own I would give it 4 &1/2 stars out of 5. It has all the ingredients of a Tarantino movie, the gruelling violence of which he's synonymous with, the chapter format, the aerial and boot camera shots, and an amazing soundtrack to boot; the perfect recipe for a Tarantino movie.
One notorious problem with this movie constantly stated by not only critics but the casual viewing audiences is the quality of dialogue. Now don't take that the wrong way I'm not saying the dialogue was bad but compared to other Tarantino movies there is a lack of memorable dialogue. One reason for could be because Tarantino himself is an Oscar winning screenwriter and normally knocks the script out of the park, and in this movie, he was deliberately trying not to create any memorable dialogue. As strange as it may seem he was most likely just trying make an outright action movie and was focusing on the action elements of the movie compared to the narrative. However, there is one brilliant scene of dialogue in the movie between Bill and the bride talking about Clark Kent just to give some credit (It.’s in volume 2). You can tell they had a lot of fun writing that scene. One of the movies biggest strengths was its greats soundtrack. In such an exciting movie the soundtrack not only heightens the excitement, it even makes the gruesome gory action, seem less tragic and more comedic. On the topic of gruesome action, quick disclaimer: This movie is not for the squeamish or those faints of heart and without a doubt is Tarantino's most bloodstained movie.
The gore in this movie is accountable for the best action in the Tarantino film collection and even excuses the ‘lacklustre’ dialogue a bit. The action completely outdoes most other action movies sequences and is in a league of its own.
Kill Bill Volume 2 is all about the western movie genre in comparison the strictly eastern themes of Volume 1,; Volume 1 even including a long expositional 'anime' scene, which would give most high budget Japanese anime’s a run for their money.
Volume 2 has all the typical features of a western including scenes of vast deserts and of course, the guns. The movie even mocks the bride’s inability to change to this new culture in one scene where it seems like she will successfully sneak up on Budd (Michael Madsen) Bill's brother and kill him with her katana, like in Volume 1. This inability to change ends her up in a wooden coffin, a shotgun shell in her chest, with nothing but a flashlight. This tense scene allows us to see her training scene with the great infamous master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) and even showed her learning Bruce Lee’s prolific one-inch punch, which would come in handy later.
We come face to face with our main protagonist Bill for the first time in Volume 2 as the movie recounts the wedding scene in full. The Bride goes out the reception and encounters her old lover Bill, playing his wooden pipe. The bride and Bill have some nice banter between them and you can believe that they were once a couple. The older spurned lover Bill almost seems to have come to terms with the bride’s decision to marry and sits down on the lonely bride’s side. As Bill goes to sit down Robert Rodriguez musical score outdoes itself and the tone suddenly shifts, we all know what will happen next. The chainsaw massacre begins, and the movie goes full circle.
Moving on, on her list when the inevitable fight with Elle (Daryl Hannah) occurs later in Budd's trailer the bride uses one of her master’s old moves, quite poetically snatching out Elle's only eye while her master snatched the first eye out its socket many years before.
The bride (whose real name was revealed to be Beatrix Kiddo) leaves to finish off her list.
The movie finishes with the decisive battle of the movie’s namesake. The decisive battle which was more a duel of wits then a direct fight packed an emotional punch. Bill being the charmer as always doesn't take his own demise to heart (quite literally in fact). Again, her training with Pai Mei comes in handy as she's finishes Bill with possibly the coolest martial arts move in film history with an equally cool name 'the five-point exploding heart technique'. Bill stands up accepting his death and takes 5 steps, and the namesake of the movie is complete.
Overall, I would say volume two is the better movie out of pair and can easily enough be enjoyed without watching the first volume. 5/5
This movie has always been heavily criticised and disregarded to the dark corner of Tarantino movies. The criticism towards this movie in many parts I feel were misguided. What critics and people alike don't understand is that this is a different type of Tarantino movie and deserves to be treated as such. I have tried to criticise both volumes as one whole movie, as they should be, and would readily recommend anyone to watch both volumes this way. If you prefer Tarantino's more plot and dialogue driven stories (as this movie is a story of revenge with action scenes built around it) then I recommend you watch Pulp fiction, however if action is your cup of tea I highly recommend this movie for what it is a great action film.