Review: Kill Bill: Volume 1

Since the first time I saw Pulp Fiction in DVD I knew that Quentin Tarantino was a god. The snappy, witty dialog, the extreme violence, and the interesting situations that many of the characters found themselves in all lent themselves into creating a totally original and enjoyable experience that should be enjoyed by all. Now after the $100 million dollar plus gross of Fiction and the underappreciated Jackie Brown, Tarantino brings us a tale of revenge in the form of Kill Bill: Volume 1.

I’ll say this right off the bat, Kill Bill should never have been split into two parts. No matter the reasons behind the split, this isn’t the kind of film you chop into two pieces to either a) make more money, b) get it out the door, or c) do it because you want to. Those familiar with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction will note that Tarantino doesn’t show the action of events in the order they happen. The movie jumps around from scene to scene which shows valuable insight into why things happened the way they did. Think Memento on a much more jumbled scale. Cutting Kill Bill into two parts doesn’t fit in with Tarantino’s scene by scene formula at all, and what you get are several characters introduced that appear on screen for no more than 3 minutes, and won’t be seen again until Volume 2.

Kill Bill tells the story of The Bride (Uma Thurman) who we find out is assassinated on her wedding day after leaving the ranks of assassins employed by a man named Bill. We are introduced to three of the four assassins and The Bride faces off against two of them in this installment, with two more and the final battle with Bill to come in Volume 2. The two main characters we meet in Volume 1 are O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Lui), the head of the Japanese underground and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) who is trying to settle into a new life with her daughter. Fox is only in the film for a short period of time, but her performance seems right on the mark for a former assassin trying to change her life. Lui’s Ishii is the feature of the film with an Anime origin scene and the subject of the main battle sequence in the film. For all of those who can forget Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, you may actually like Lui as a decapitating, Japanese gangster. Still the best performance is turned out by Thurman herself who continues to shine even after some questionable film decisions.

Everything you have heard about Kill Bill‘s ultra-violence is very, very true. The film has buckets and buckets of blood (more akin to a mid-budget slasher film) but the amount of press going towards this aspect is somewhat peculiar considering fountains streaming from ripped appendages approaches the campy side of violence instead of the life-life bloodshed seen in movies like Saving Private Ryan. Be warned, however, body parts fly all over the screen in this film, especially the climatic showdown between The Bride and at least 80 subordinates of Ishii. The scene transforms from color to black & white to cover up some of the fountains of blood and, presumably, give the film its R rating as opposed to NC-17. Stylistic or not, it appears as though the Japanese release will be in full color.

As with all Tarantino movies the film flows very smoothly, except for a few parts where the story meanders on seemingly meaningless points, but it doesn’t stay this way for long. Kill Bill is one of those movies where you forget you are wearing a watch because you never, ever check it. For your reference House of the Dead caused well over a dozen “watch-check-moments.”

The biggest drawback of the entire film is we aren’t seeing all of it. The reasons for the split may never be know, but what was released is a truly excellent film. Final judgment on whether or not Kill Bill is better than Pulp Fiction will take Volume 2 being released in February, but as it stands it seems as though all of Tarantino’s hard work has paid off as he has delivered cinematic glory.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!