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Kill Bill Volume 1 review

From The Quentin Tarantino Archives

No unauthorized reprinting, publishing or other use allowed without permission

by 'Oppressed Writer'

Quentin Tarantino returns with a vengeance in Kill Bill Vol 1, his fourth and a half film. (Vol. 2 comes out in February a la Matrix) After an almost six year hiatus the maestro of pop culture returns with his biggest contribution to cinema yet. Kill Bill follows the Bride played by Uma Thurman in her best performance to date. The name stems from the brutal beating she endures, while pregnant, by her former colleagues during her private wedding reception, and the bullet in the head she takes by the eponymous Bill. The film is about her quest for vengeance, or as she remarks in the trailer it's her “Roaring Rampage of Revenge.” Tarantino really strikes back with a film that's an homage to cult cinema, display of remarkable visual talent, and an unbelievably guilty spectacle of bloodshed.

Why did it turn into a cartoon? Why is it so violent? Is this a comedy? Well, what Kill Bill really is a pastiche of every film Tarantino apparently adored as a young movie buff. It is here to further vindicate his viewpoints towards Grindhouse, Cult, and Kung Fu Cinema. The film's style shifts between suburbia, Tokyo, Okinawa, and Japanese animation as different parts of the stories are told. All this style shifting is occurring in midst of the subtle tone changes that Tarantino is incorporating for the fans: The Spaghetti Western a la Sergio Leone; The classic kung fu flick ala Shaw Brothers; The Samurai Genre a la Asian Cinema. It's a great testament to Tarantino's ability that he is able to take so many different palettes of styles and tones and mesh them together to form an exhilarating picture. There are scenes in Kill Bill that are so immaculately and beautifully constructed that you will literally gasp with joy.

What happened? Yup, the film, in typical Tarantino fashion, employs a non-chronological narrative (chapter format with title cards a la Pulp Fiction), but this works as a strength again because of the talent behind every aspect of the film: RZA's Music, Sally Menke's editing, Robert Richardson's Cinematography, Yuen Woo Ping's fight choreography. Every part of this crew is at top form and working at a level beyond most people. Tarantino has been heard saying that he wanted each section of the film to feel like a different reel. Well, he wasn't lying and what's even better is that the shifts are all a pleasure to behold due to the talent mentioned above. It's a rare feeling to get so much passion behind a shot. It's an almost vicarious feeling to see something so labored over brought to the screen.

Did you say bloody as hell? Because blood, which is often associated with Grindhouse Cinema is something that Kill Bill is not afraid to shy away from. The film is extremely violent but in an entertainingly desensitized way. The film is so outlandish in its demises that it's impossible to take this stuff seriously. Most of the gruesome scenes of violence are shockingly shock less. Most are played for a sardonic guilty pleasure. The audience I watched this film with applauded as The Bride mercilessly chopped through her opponents: The Crazy 88's, who all fell dramatically sprouting geysers of blood. Tarantino must have been getting something right, because it got by with an R rating despite being one of the most violent films in recent memory.

So, where does this rank in the pantheon of Tarantino flicks? Well, right now it will all depend on where Tarantino is planning to take this with Vol. 2. So far it still stands below Pulp Fiction, but it definitely is the most unadulterated, entertaining hodgepodge of styles from him yet. It's also marks the growth of Tarantino whose definitely improved behind the camera in terms of shot composition, blocking, and overall style. To cut a long review short. I wholeheartedly recommend Kill Bill to anyone who was on the fence for what to watch this weekend. To become completely unprofessional and honest for a second; You'll have a kick ass time.