Cert: 18 Runtime: 111 mins Director: Quentin Tarantino Cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Vivica A.Fox, Daryl Hannah and David Caradine
That woman deserves her revenge and we deserve to die
This was my first QT experience in the cinema, I was under age but I had a beard so it was fine. Tarantino is a big fan of kung fu, martial arts and Asian film. Kill Bill is his homage to this genre. Kill Bill: Volume 1 marked the return of Quentin Tarantino, after a six-year hiatus (his previous film being 1997’s Jackie Brown). Even though it was split into two parts, the first two hours of Tarantino’s epic bloody masterpiece still resides with me as the better of the two.The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad consists of five most deadly killers, led by Bill (David Caradine). There is O’Ren-Ishii as Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu), Elle Driver as California Mountain Snake (Darryl Hannah), Vernita Green as Copperhead (Vivica A.Fox), Budd as Sidewinder (Michael Madsen). And there is The Bride (Uma Thurman), whose name is not spoken, who wanted to quit because she was pregnant. One day, somewhere in the Texas desert, The Bride wanted to marry the love of her life. Then Bill and her former colleagues showed up and killed everyone there. But they did not do a good enough job: The Bride survives, barely, and is in a coma for four years. Her colleagues know this but won’t kill her in her sleep, it would just ruin the reputation. One day, The Bride awakens. For her, not a second has consciously passed, and after she realizes all the things that have happened, The Bride decides to take revenge. Bloody revenge. On each single one of those who betrayed her. First on her death list is Cottonmouth, who has become the yakuza boss of Tokyo, Japan, second in line is Copperhead, who chose a more decent life as well. The Bride sets out to take back what was once hers: Her life.
Using the simplest of story lines as a template for his latest bloodbath, Tarantino paints his story of an assassin gunned down at her wedding seeking revenge against the perpetrators with an operatic splendour, utilizing all of his usual trademarks with pitch-perfect intensity. With a stylized script providing some of the most quotable lines since Pulp Fiction and coy experimentation with narrative form, taking note and paying tribute to his usual multitude of nationalities and genres, from 1970s Japanese Samurai films (which the entire film is structured in the mould of), to convoluted classic french narrative, to continual innovations and experimentations in cinematic technique (with use of “chapters”, freeze frames, eclectic cinematography and interludes to Japanese anime or black and white) Tarantino is at the top of his masterful game. The film’s typically quirky musical score, making use of everything from classical samurai film themes to Nancy Sinatra to original works composed by independent artist The RZA proves an odd compilation that exquisitely captures the bizarre and endlessly captivating essence of the film. Similarly, no film would pulse with the essence of Tarantino without copious use of violence, which Kill Bill: Volume One delivers in spades. While the mayhem is overdone to an almost comical extent (with dismembered henchmen spouting torrents of blood oddly enough harking back to Monty Python) several moments evoke such brutal and visceral intensity that even the most jaded viewers are likely to cringe. However, Tarantino similarly displays his uncanny talent to draw dark humour out of the most unlikely situations, wonderfully counterbalancing the very real emotional tension with unlikely humour, such as a room full of maimed bodies moaning in a zombie-like dirge. In the midst of the mayhem, it is easy to forget how hilarious the film can be. However, the superb fight choreography (in particular the staggering half hour final showdown) is breathtaking and astonishing in its intricate bloody splendour, crafting some of the most elaborate and intensely engaging sword fight scenes in cinema history. ]
Despite the jaw-dropping technical work and masterfully crafted script, Tarantino’s film really comes to life through the incredible performances of his cunningly assembled cast. Giving a career best performance, Uma Thurman is nothing less than flat out mesmerizing as the initially nameless Bride. Diving into her performance with such raw intensity and extracting every last iota of emotion from the part, Thurman’s powerhouse of a performance is the beating heart which keeps the film throbbing with life, carrying both the audience’s sympathies and enthralled enthusiasm with her every step of the way. Similarly, Lucy Liu is enormously impressive as a smoothly psychotic assassin turned mob boss, and watching her calm veneer melt into a captivating pillar of exposed fury is one of the film’s most terrifying moments. Daryl Hannah and Vivica A. Fox each enthrall given their moments to shine as two of The Bride’s former fellow assassins, as does Julie Dreyfus as Liu’s oily second in command. Character actor Sonny Chiba is a delightful yet dignified presence as a mysterious retired swordsmith, and Chiaki Kuriyama resonates with power as likely the deadliest ‘schoolgirl’ ever beheld on celluloid. Seen only in a brief cameo setting up his role for the sequel, Michael Madsen nonetheless makes a strong impression as an introspective assassin, and David Carradine is spellbinding as the never seen Bill, his silky voice winding itself around his lines like the deadly viper his assassination squad is named after – one of the most effective villains never to expose their face. Easily Tarantino’s strongest, most visceral and ceaselessly stylish work since Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Volume One’s dialogue, truly stunning cinematic style and technical work and myriad of tremendous performances (especially the astonishing Thurman) cement it as one of the most effortlessly innovative and impeccably masterful films of the decade. The effect of Kill Bill is truly astonishing; even after multiple viewings, the initial reaction of gut-level shock and awe at Tarantino’s tremendous daring and perverse genius never wanes. Stylish, sadistic, cathartic fun – not for the faint of heart, but for those capable of stomaching it, Kill Bill is near peerless.