October 15 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 25  

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Kill 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 Staff

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, Pulp Fiction.

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 revengin’ time.

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 body count.

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.



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