Kill Bill: Volume One


Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by:Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine
Released: October 16, 2003
Grade: B+

The opening credits will tell you that this “feature presentation” is the “fourth film by Quentin Tarantino.”  It’s been six years since his last film, Jackie Brown, and almost a decade since he changed modern day filmmaking with cult favourites Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.  On the set of Fiction, Tarantino and star Uma Thurman talked about creating a modern day martial arts film and here we have it with… Kill Bill.

Unlike his previous works, there isn’t an intricately complicated story unfolding.  A five member posse known as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad viciously kill an entire wedding party during a small ceremony at an isolated church.  Or so they thought.  The bride (Thurman) survived and spent four years in a coma as a result of shocking gunshot wounds.  We know this woman only as her code name, Black Mamba.  Her real name is spoken on two occasions but it is bleeped out to prevent us hearing it.

Awaking from the coma, Black Mamba only wants one thing – revenge.  On a piece of paper, she writes the five names of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad members and begins her quest.  In Volume One, she will kill Vernita Green (Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Liu).  In Volume Two, to be released early next year, I assume she will go after Budd (Madsen), Elle Driver (Hannah) and Bill (Carradine).  I feel somewhat cheated in that I will have to pay twice to see all of it.  The film should have been released as one three-hour movie but the powers that be thought better of it.

I’m not a big martial arts fan and perhaps this contributed to my reluctance to accepting this film.  There are some well choreographed battles and swordfights but nothing truly original or outstanding.  I’ve seen this many times before and there is a strong similarity with The Matrix: Reloaded.  Evidently different though is the amount of violence.  This is the most sadistic release of the 2003 year and the film has been censored accordingly in Australia.  Whilst nothing was cut, some scenes are shown in black and white as the sight of red blood was “deemed” too confronting.  Sigh.

Why you do need to see this movie is because it’s a Quentin Tarantino picture.  It oozes with class and style.  He has a warped sense of humour and I had to chuckle at the couple of Star Trek jokes he somehow wove into the screenplay.  He has also mastered the art of finding the perfect movie soundtrack.  Like he did in Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, there are extended sequences where a pumping music track is played against no dialogue.

Disappointment is my reaction to Kill Bill: Volume One in that I have the highest expectations from Tarantino and in this case, he didn’t fully deliver.  Then again, I’ve only seen half of the movie so perhaps I’ll change my appraisal once I return from the four month intermission.