Cast & Crew info:
The Bride (Black Mamba)
Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake)
Vivica A. Fox
Vernita Green (Copperhead)
Go Go Yubari
Produced by Lawrence
Bender, Koko Maeda, Dede Nickerson, Erica Steinberg, E. Bennett
Walsh, Bob Weinstein and Harvey Weinstein; Directed and
written by Quentin Tarantino
Action (US); 2003;
Rated R for strong bloody violence, language and some
sexual content; Running Time: 111 Minutes
Domestic Release Date:
October 10, 2003
by DAVID KEYES
is a dish better served cold."
flutter of Quentin Tarantino's creative wings is a sight
that every movie lover should see at least once in his or
her lifetime, even though the opportunity only presents
itself at the multiplex once or twice every decade. A master
of his craft and probably the most inspired amongst his
peers, he is someone who loves movies almost as much as
he enjoys making them, a detail that provides him with an
excellent source of groundwork in his apparent goal to satisfy
as many moviegoers as possible. Consider "Pulp Fiction,"
his most lauded effort to date; here he harvests as many
narrative and technical gimmicks as he possibly can in just
two short hours, combining a modern mindset with elements
of various genres of the 1970s in order to establish something
more distinctive than anything done by anyone else in the
industry. The movie is quirky, ironic, clever and nostalgic
all in the same gulp, and the fact that it always manages
to entertain without fail amongst all its style-bending
and cliché-melding is further proof of how dedicated
the man is to his cause.
don't automatically jump to the assumption that crossbreeding
movie genres for the purpose of silly entertainment is all
Tarantino is good for, either. Stylistically, his chutzpah
for all things offbeat helps raise the bar of enthusiasm,
but his immediate virtue lies in the slick way he writes
his characters into stories, plots that don't necessarily
concern themselves with much depth but thrive at the prospect
of minor side details that would otherwise be unimportant
in less ambitious films. In his new movie "Kill Bill,
Volume 1" (so named "Volume 1" because it
is actually half of a bigger picture that will finish out
in 2004), that approach goes into hyper-drive from the very
first moment it is on screenin basic premise form,
the movie has a paper-thin setup and almost equally flimsy
motives, but it sabotages potential mediocrity by enlisting
colorful characters in a fray of complexity as the script
reveals lots of back-story and then brings it into the forefront.
Here is where the movie makes its most obvious departure
from Tarantino's past work, tooit has more depth,
more exposition, more intrigue and even more style than
all three of his previous endeavors rolled into one. Does
that make it even more brilliant than the already-flawless
"Jackie Brown" and "Pulp Fiction?" Maybe
cannot describe the immense emotional pleasure experienced
by watching "Kill Bill, Volume 1" in all its glory.
This is cinematic entertainment at its most zealous and
cherished, a movie with such raw ambition and spirit that
it literally reinvents the standards of everything it can
be associated with. Once again drawing inspiration from
movie genres of the 1970s to help establish his unconventional
vision (in this case, old martial arts films and spaghetti
westerns are his notable influences), Tarantino fashions
a product here that is a platform for all kinds of quirkiness
and irony, with an occasional patch of drama thrown into
the mix for good measure. It is infectious. It is mesmerizing.
It may very well be one of the most enjoyable and engrossing
experiences you will ever have at the cinema.
as for that "paper-thin" story, here's the scoop:
Uma Thurman plays the film's main character, a woman whose
actual name is never revealed on screen but is usually referred
to by others as "The Bride" (or in other circumstances,
her former code name "Black Mamba"). At the opening
of the film, our "Bride" is shot in the head by
an off-screen foe named Bill, she being the last of nine
victims at a wedding party that was ambushed by the murdering
madman and his crew of assassins. But she does not die from
the tragedy as her enemies would have hoped; rather, she
simply falls into a coma and remains that way for four whole
years. When she emerges, she finds her unborn baby now gone
and her life in shambles, prospects that only fuel an instantaneous
desire to seek out revenge on those responsible for the
time she has lost. How much deeper the relationship between
her and her foes go is never specifically revealed, but
the initial suggestion is that the Bride was once part of
this troupe of elite assassins herself. Where or how things
went wrong is perhaps a detail we will see revealed in the
next installment in the saga.
happens, instead, in this first film is essentially the
first stages of the Bride's angry vendetta. Here she goes
up against Vernita Green, a.k.a. "Copperhead"
(Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii, a.k.a. "Cottonmouth"
(Lucy Liu), two of the assassins who in the years since
their last confrontation with their former adversary have
gone on to lead much different lives; Vernita is now a wife
and mother in suburbia, while O-Ren has prospered as an
Asian assassin and now leads her very own underworld of
crime in Japan. Such obstacles still do not take away from
the Bride's goals, which are to kill the enemies one by
one before confronting the man responsible for all the mayhem
in the first place: Bill himself.
is all that needs to be said here regarding story, because
reading any kind of description of "Kill Bill"
simply does not do it justice; this is one of those movies
in which the level of internal enthusiasm requires eyewitnesses
rather than people getting their information secondhand.
What gives the movie such a flair is in the way it delivers
all of its promises through such a varying degree of vision
scales. In addition to obligatory elaborate kung fu confrontation
sequences that tend to result in massive dismemberment,
Tarantino also implores elements of old Hollywood westerns
(like probing facial close-ups of significant players) and
the classic Samurai movies that required characters to give
long-winded confrontation speeches before their inevitable
fights. The movie even chooses to tell one of its back stories
using Japanese anime, a choice that is perhaps more obligatory
than first perceived considering the amount of blood and
gore utilized at specific intervals. Surprisingly, all of
these traits mesh together cohesively and without disruption;
Tarantino makes them part of the same mold without ever
showing us the seams. To top that all off, the film is a
triumph of technical detail as well, with exquisite cinematography
and swift (but clear) editing that keeps the level of tension
up even at times when the action wears thin (which isn't
not pretend to consider "Kill Bill" something
of high art, because it is clearly not anything of the sort.
But it is such a remarkable marriage of all the elements
it consists of that none of that matters; it is like few
movies we will ever be able to see. A soaring and rousing
action film with just as much brain as imagination, this
is one of 2003's most remarkable achievements.
© 2004, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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