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Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)


review by Collin Kelley



Directed by Quentin Tarantino


Starring Uma Thurman, Vivica fox, Michael Madsen, Daryll Hannah, David Carradine


Rated R




Tarantino returns for his much touted "4th Film" in the most violent, bloodiest way possible. It's as if being gone for five years (his last was Jackie Brown back in 1997) made him feel the need to up the ante (and the body count) as much as possible. In that unmistakable QT style, he makes severed body parts and fountains of blood both horrific and hysterical at the same time. Kill Bill Vol. 1 (part two comes in February, cut in half by Miramax because of the film's three-hour plus running time) is a literal "f--k you" to just about everyone. You will either love or hate this film. I
loved it.

This is the film Matrix Reloaded wanted to be...edgy, stylish, and enough ass kicking to make Keanu Reeves run for cover. Put Uma Thurman's hell-bent-on-revenge "Bride" [or Black Mamba] in a room with Neo, Trinity, or a 500 Agent Smiths and she would cut them down in one cleave of her samurai sword. At the opening of the film, we learn that the Bride was part of an elite
assassination team called the Deadly Viper Squad (including Darryl Hannah, Vivica Fox and Lucy Liu) under the command of Bill (David Carridine - who is really only heard in Vol. 1). For reasons unexplained in this chapter, Bill turns the rest of the squad against the Bride and has her assassinated on her wedding day. Not only does he kill the groom and the entire wedding party,
but also the Bride's unborn child. Since this is a QT film, all of this is told out of sequence, but is brilliantly and seamlessly brought together. After the church massacre, we immediately see the Bride stalking down Vivica Fox's character, who has become a respected mother and married to a wealthy doctor. The Bride kills Fox's character [Vernita Green] in front of the young child, and you know immediately there is going to be little tea and sympathy for anyone involved here. As she's leaving, the Bride tells the little girl, "If you're still raw about this when you get older and you want to come after me, I'll be waiting for you."

We then learn the Bride was repeatedly raped and whored out by the male nurses while in a coma for four years after the massacre. Then it jumps ahead to the Bride in Japan tracking down Oren (Liu), who has become the head of the Tokyo mafia. Oren surrounds herself with dozens upon dozens of Samurai minions and an especially lethal 17-year-old bodyguard who almost takes down the Bride. In the film's giant set piece, the Bride beheads and sends limbs flying around a restaurant. The spray of blood and screams become less horrific and more comedic. The Bride also has a way with witty one liners and she also knows how to somersault, run up stair banisters, and fly through the air in a nod to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The Bride deals with Oren and then sends one of her maimed minions back to Bill with a message that he is next on her list. The film ends with a shocking twist provided by the voice of Bill.

QT and Miramax have cleverly shown very little of what happens in Vol. 2 of Kill Bill in any of the trailers. What will happen is anybody's guess. Certainly the Bride has more cutting to do (she still hasn't squared off against Darryl Hannah's character [Elle Driver], who may be the most lethal assassin - or the barely  glimpsed Michael Madsen [Budd] as the only male member of the Deadly Viper Squad).  And she still has to get to Bill himself. One thing is for sure, if Uma Thurman carries the second part as well as the first, then the whole Kill Bill saga could very well be her finest acting role. Her shattering scream after waking up from the coma and learning she has lost her groom, baby, and family is breathtaking and her deadly focus as she plans her attack against her former allies is telegraphed using a modicum of well-written dialogue.  Although you may feel sickened by some of her choices (especially killing the mom [Vernita] in front of her kid) you are on the Bride's side throughout the film. Thurman makes this killing machine human. Tarantino is like a kid in a
film store: sending up homages by the dozens. He nods his hat to Brian DePalma with split screens, apes every samurai film ever made, and updates Francois Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black with a much more deadly visage.

A note to parents: Don't take the kids. And even after those fountains of blood and flying body parts become comical, every now and then Thurman's Bride will kill someone else in a way that will still grab you in the nether regions and give you pause. Bring on Vol. 2!



review by Collin Kelley 10/2003

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