Kill Bill Volume 1 (18)

Film image

The ViewBirmingham Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner06/10/2003

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Stylish, bloody and extremely violent, this is Tarantino’s ode to his Inner Geek – some of the scenes are genuinely repulsive and it lacks the trademark snappy dialogue but delivers fantastic fight scenes, a cool soundtrack and a dizzying array of cinematic tricks.

Quentin Tarantino seems to actively enjoy making us wait five years between movies – it’s hard to believe that Jackie Brown was as long ago as 1997. Perhaps the five year gap is part of the reasoning behind releasing Kill Bill in two parts, as Kill Bill: Volume 2 is set to follow in February.

Officially the two parts release idea is credited to Harvey Weinstein, though Tarantino claims it always felt like two movies as they were making it. At any rate, his long-awaited 4th film has finally arrived and if the reaction so far is anything to go by, it looks set to sharply divide both audiences and critics alike.

Beaten, Shot In The Head And Left For Dead…

It seems odd that, having made Uma Thurman into a cinematic icon with her black bob and white shirt in Pulp Fiction, Tarantino is set to do it again, but this time in a distinctly tackier, blood-stained yellow and black tracksuit. There’s no denying she could use a hit though – can you even remember the last decent movie she was in?

Thurman stars as The Bride (her name is bleeped out), an ex-assassin who is badly beaten, shot in the head and left for dead at the altar, along with her unborn child. However, she survives and, after waking up from a four-year-long coma, she embarks on a vicious revenge quest to take out the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. These include Vivica A. Fox and Lucy Liu, while flashbacks reveal that we can look forward to confrontations with Darryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and ‘Bill’ himself (David Carradine) in Volume 2.

The film is divided into five chapters, the first of which - somewhat predictably now, really – occurs out of sequence and involves a deadly knife battle between Viveca A. Fox’s “suburban Mom” (codename: Copperhead) and Thurman’s bride.

Other chapters include: the Bride’s escape from hospital (the most distasteful scene in the film, since it reveals that a hospital orderly has been pimping out her comatose body and misguidedly plays the scene for laughs); a journey to Japan in order to obtain a sword from master sword-maker Sonny Chiba (one of Tarantino’s kung fu movie heros); the impressive ‘origin’ story for Lucy Liu’s character, which occurs entirely in anime but is bloody and occasionally repulsive; and a stunning climactic showdown in The House Of Blue Leaves, which pits the Bride against 88 samurai sword-wielding assassins and puts The Matrix Reloaded’s ‘burly brawl’ to shame.

Inner Kung Fu Geek Unleashed

Essentially, anyone looking for the maturity and characterisation of something like Jackie Brown is going to be disappointed, as Kill Bill sees Quentin Tarantino giving free reign to his Inner Movie-Geek, which, lets face it, was never all that far from the surface anyway. The result is a glorious mismatch of cinematic styles that blends spaghetti westerns with kung fu flicks, yakuza movies and samurai sword slasher pics, though somewhat at the expense of character development and backstory.

Other ‘Tarantino-esque’ elements are all present and correct, including a terrific soundtrack courtesy of The RZA and a brightly coloured yellow / red-dominant colour scheme. It’s unusual, then, that the film lacks Tarantino’s trademarked ‘hip’ dialogue, as there’s not a single quotable line. (It’s at this point that it becomes hard to review the film without seeing the second part, because apparently we can expect a slower pace, more emphasis on dialogue and more backstory / character development in Volume 2).

The fight scenes, choreographed by Yuen Wo-Ping, are fantastic, providing you can handle the geysers of blood that erupt every time a limb is hacked off (this happens a lot). Fortunately, the film stylishly switches to black and white to spare our delicate sensibilities. In fact, the House of Blue Leaves sequence (of which highlights include the fight against Japanese schoolgirl assassin Go-Go and her deadly Metal Yo-Yo thing and a beautiful silhouette sequence shot like a ballet) is so good that it renders the climactic Liu / Thurman showdown somewhat anti-climactic.

In short, if you’re a Tarantino fan, this is clearly unmissable, though it definitely leaves a nastier taste than his other films and may well be too violent and obscene for some. Final judgement will have to be reserved for Volume 2, but for now, a couple of judgemental lapses aside, this is one of the coolest films of the year.

Film Trailer

Kill Bill Volume 1 (18)
Be the first to review Kill Bill Volume 1...
image
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

image
02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

image
03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

image
04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

image
05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 17/10/2017 23:02

Latest Film Reviews

Film Blog

Urban Pundit

Keep up to date with everything in film and cinema at Urban Pundit, the exciting new blog.

Film of the Week

The Conjuring (15)

Hugely enjoyable, genuinely scary horror flick that provides a welcome throwback to classic 1970s chillers, thanks to impeccable production design, a superb script, powerfully atmospheric direction, intense set-pieces and terrific performances.

Latest Close Up

Noah Baumbach Interview

The Frances Ha director discusses co-writing the script with Greta Gerwig, shooting against the backdrop of New York and the real lives of the city’s people, Greta Gerwig’s performance, the music in the film and the picture's visual style.