A Film Review By The Mike
Rating:RATED R for lots of Violence, Swearing and Buckets of Blood
Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Final Grade: <
One of the most common phrases heard over the past 5 years has been “Whatever happened to Quentin Tarantino?” After his successful trio of films was released between 1992 and 1997, he disappeared from directing. When he resurfaced, he decided to make Kill Bill. “What is Kill Bill?”, everyone then asked. Few on the outside would have thought that the answer was a full out Kung-Fu/exploitation film, but that’s what we get. And after finally seeing what’s released, we have no reason to complain.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (You all know by now that this is a two-part project now because Miramax execs are stupid and didn’t want to release a three-hour film.) introduces us to The Bride (Uma Thurman), who’s out for revenge against Bill (David Carradine), the man who left her for dead on her wedding day (we think). She wakes up four years later, and wants revenge for the lives taken that day (which total nine – Bill thinks she’s number nine, she knows that her (and Bill’s) unborn baby is number nine). She sets out on a mission to hunt down the four members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, which tried to kill her, starting out with Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox) and Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu).
Kill Bill is a very straightforward film in this volume (I highly doubt that this will change in the second as well). It’s about one thing and one thing only. Spilling blood. Fight sequences come early and often, and each one in masterfully crafted in every aspect. The scenes in-between fights generate some plot and some laughs, and the film as a whole holds together perfectly, showing no ill effects of being cut in half by Miramax. It’s a quick moving 100 minutes of fun.
I’ve never seen an actress so perfect in a role than Uma Thurman as The Bride. Let me reiterate that – NEVER. After 10 minutes I believed The Bride was a real person. I felt every emotion, winced at every cut, and understood every motivation. Sure, it’s not superb acting by traditional standards, and it won’t win an Oscar (Does anything worthwhile win these things anymore?), but for my buck this is the most intense mental and physical performance I’ve seen given by an actress, and deserves much more praise than it will get.
There are some flaws in Kill Bill, but nothing that really detracts from its effect. There were a few scenes that I felt were done in a manner I didn’t like (particularly the mid-film animated sequence and the black and white battle near the end), which I assume were done that way in hopes of saving an R rating by the MPAA. This film pushes the envelope of violence greatly, and I’m sure Tarantino can’t wait to get an unrated and uncut version available to the public on DVD. This isn’t necessarily a good thing to all, but I’ll put up with it if it’s anything like what I saw on the big screen.
Kill Bill is a film that lives and breathes because of the effort of those behind it, and mostly due to the efforts of Tarantino and Thurman, who came up with the idea of The Bride while working on Pulp Fiction. Their passion makes its way onto the screen, and should be visible to the viewer. I’m sad that I’m not educated enough to understand all the references the film offers as homages to older works and music (Although I have to thank my Dad for introducing me to the music of Santa Esmeralda, which figures prominently into the film.), but I know that anyone with a tolerance for blood and a penchance for fighting will find no reason not to love Kill Bill: Vol. 1.
In addition, the final line of the film is one of the best cliffhangers I’ve ever encountered. As soon as the screen went black I whimpered in pain, knowing I, like the rest of us, have to wait till next year to find out what happens next. I can promise I’ll be first in line to find out.