Kill Bill: Volume 1

"Weak"

Kill Bill: Volume 1 Review


In the wake of "Reservoir Dogs," "Pulp Fiction" and "Jackie Brown," film buffs have come to expect intrepid sub-Hollywood scavenger Quentin Tarantino to bowl us over with ingenious, amped-up, style-blending B-movie off-shoots made with a quantum leap of depth and cinematic panache.

Influenced by cut-rate, under-the-counter samurai imports, spaghetti Westerns and popcorn-munching exploitation flicks of bygone eras, the writer-director's two-part revenge saga "Kill Bill" ("Volume 2" is due in February) has sexy, gritty, droll, deluxe Tarantino élan coming out its ears -- and absurdly grisly dam-bursts of stage blood spurting from other violently severed body parts in ambitious marathon swordfight scenes. But while the picture oozes style (and blood), it comes up short on substance -- which is what has always set Tarantino's grindhouse homages head and shoulders above the pulp pictures that inform them.

Choreographed by both kung-fu genius Yuen Wo-Ping ("The Matrix" movies, "Charlie's Angels," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," etc.) and Japanese Kenjutsu legend Sonny Chiba (who plays an eccentric master sword-maker in the film), these focal-point fights are the culmination of a plot about a sultry, strong-willed former assassin (Uma Thurman) who was left for dead when her employer -- possibly peeved by her resignation, although "Volume 1" is vague on that point -- turned her wedding into a massacre.

Waking up after six years in a coma, The Bride (whose name is bleeped out whenever mentioned in an enigmatic touch of Tarantino whimsy) is out to execute every last one of her former associates who helped kill her groom and guests. After willing the atrophy from her dormant limbs and snuffing a lowlife hospital intern who had been pimping her inert body to perverts, in "Volume 1" The Bride hunts down "Copperhead" (Vivica A. Fox), now a suburban mommy whose young daughter who comes home from school in the middle of their kitchen-knife duel, and O-Ren Ishi (Lucy Liu), a deadly flower of sword-slinging, geisha femininity who has become Tokyo's most feared yakuza mob boss.

(Psychotic, one-eyed hired gun Daryl Hannah, puckered-browed perpetual heavy Michael Madsen and assassin boss David Carradine -- i.e. "Bill" -- are briefly glimpsed in this movie but will apparently meet their fate in "Volume 2.")

Giving a minxy, magnetic performance that speaks of her professional chemistry with Tarantino, Thurman imbibes and embodies the impetus for her murder streak, but save a sense of humor that comes out in the occasional snappy line of dialogue, there's not much depth to The Bride. Her targets too, while played by good actors, are little more than vaguely fleshed-out cartoons -- in one case literally. O-Ren's super-violent childhood backstory is presented as an anime flashback, a decision I suspect was less of a creative nod to Japanese cartoons than it was a way to skirt an NC-17 rating for several gory, blood-gushing murders.

The same editorial/artistic slight-of-hand can be seen in a black-and-white sequence and another in silhouette during the spectacular climactic swordfight, which ranges all over a two-story Japanese restaurant and into a snowy tea garden as The Bride slays literally dozens of Katana-wielding, Kato-masked yakuza on her way to facing off against O-Ren. But while this artifice may have hoodwinked the MPAA, the cumulative gross-out effect of the over-the-top bloodletting -- no matter what visual form it takes, no matter what low-budget Japanese sword-genre flicks inspired it, and no matter how deliberately cheap and silly it looks -- eventually becomes an annoying distraction from the extraordinary, steel-bladed blitz of the fights themselves.

"Kill Bill: Volume 1" does exhibit Tarantino's gift for coalescing idiosyncratic performances, cinematic self-awareness, irregular narrative, creative camerawork and a wide variety of pop-referencing soundtrack music into a shrewd, synergistic whole. But that whole -- or at least this first half of it -- isn't quite the sum of its dynamic parts.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Box Office Worldwide: $180.9M

Budget: $55M

Production compaines: Super Cool ManChu, Miramax Films, A Band Apart

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Beatrix 'The Bride' Kiddo, as O-Ren Ishii, Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green, as Elle Driver, as Bill, as Gogo Yubari, as Sofie Fatale, as Budd, as Hattori Hanzo, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui as Johnny Mo, as Buck, as Earl McGraw, James Parks as Edgar McGraw, Sakichi Satô as Charlie Brown, Ambrosia Kelley as Nikki Bell, as Tanaka, as Boss Ozawah, Goro Daimon as Boss Honda, as Boss Benta, Zhang Jin Zhan as Boss Orgami, Sachiko Fujii as The 5, 6, 7, 8's, as Crazy 88, Yôji Tanaka as Crazy 88, Issei Takahashi as Crazy 88, Sô Yamanaka as Crazy 88

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.