ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT
Bill: Vol. One another Tarantino masterpiece
Kill Bill: Volume One
Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
By Mark Polishuk
Gazette file photo
IT’S SCENES LIKE THESE THAT MAKE THE MOVIE GREAT.
One of many face-offs in Tarantino’s latest flick,
Kill Bill: Volume One.
It’s been six years since Quentin Tarantino’s
last movie and fans have been eager for his latest project.
With Kill Bill: Volume 1, it appears as though Tarantino wants
to challenge Hot Shots Part Deux as the self-proclaimed bloodiest
movie of all time.
This is not criticism, but rather praise. Tarantino has created
one of the greatest pure action films of all time: an amalgamation
of Oriental martial arts movies with North American... well,
The plot is simple. The Bride (Uma Thurman) wishes to retire
from the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and get married.
On her wedding day, however, her four fellow assassins and
boss Bill (David Carradine) murder her husband, everyone else
in the church and the Bride — or so they think. The Bride
falls into a coma for four years and when she awakens, it’s
Her first targets are former Deadly Vipers Vernita Green (Vivica
A. Fox), who has retired to become a soccer mom and O-Ren Ishii
(Lucy Liu), Japan’s chief Yakuza mobster. In Volume 2,
there’s no doubt the Bride will tear through Budd (Michael
Madsen) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) before getting to Bill.
As predictable as the plot may be, it is no different than
any other action movie where you know the hero will make it
to the end, but the question here is how much ass will be kicked
along the way.
The other question is, “just how bloody can this movie
get?” There is gore galore in Kill Bill and yet Tarantino
succeeds in turning the sheer excess of blood and violence
into both an art form and slapstick comedy. There is a distinction
made between “real” deaths (those guilty of serious
crimes are severely dispatched) whereas the average henchman
is killed in a manner befitting Monty Python, with blood spurting
cartoonishly from severed limbs. The centrepiece battle scene
of the film, as the Bride faces O-Ren’s army of henchmen,
is shot in black-and-white so the focus is on the amazing fight
choreography and not the rivers of blood and the rapidly-climbing
Kill Bill is a risky creative departure for Tarantino, as he
largely abandons his patented quirky dialogue-laden crime films
for a wall-to-wall action flick. There is no “Royale
with cheese” scene as in Pulp Fiction; Tarantino instead
uses the camera to make his references for him. Movie fans
with keen eyes will pick out ripo... er, homages to Scorsese,
Truffaut, Woo, Sayles and any number of old Bruce Lee and Sonny
Chiba films. Chiba actually appears in the film as the wise
swordmaker who trained Bill.
Cinematographer Robert Richardson uses a variety of sharply
defined photographic styles to create one of the most beautifully
shot films in recent memory. Any still frame of the battle
between Bride and O-Ren in the snowy garden is worthy of a
painting. Also notable is a 10-minute anime sequence detailing
O-Ren’s origin and allowing for even more graphic violence.
Studio pressure forced Tarantino to split his intended epic
into two films, a decision probably for the best: nearly
four hours of Kill Bill would burn out any audience. Volume
Two (out in February) is likely to be a bit more dialogue-centric,
as I doubt Madsen and Carradine are physically capable of
the high-intensity fight scenes. Hopefully the sheer energy
that fuels Volume One will carry over to the conclusion
of the story.