View Full Version : Kill Bill: Volume One

11-07-2003, 01:26 AM
Quentin Tarentino’s insanely violent homage to exploitation cinema is, after the irrelevant, self-important “Jackie Brown”, a welcome return to the filmmaking he does best (though he seems to be narrowing his audience to film school students and video store geeks). The first half features the shockingly graphic Americanized violence we’ve come to expect from him as he sets up a brutal fantasy about a woman (known as “The Bride” and played with relish by Uma Thurman) beaten and left for dead on her wedding day; after four years in a coma, she returns to exact her brutal revenge against her aggressors. In this first of two planned pictures, she battles two of the five (although, in typical Tarentino fashion, not chronologically). It’s in the second half, where she travels to Japan to commission a samurai sword from Hattori Hanzo (the legendary Sonny Chiba in a terrific performance) in order to confront O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), that the violence goes into overdrive, turning into a stylized chopsocky fever dream with each over-the-top situation outdoing the previous. (At one point, Thurman single-handedly takes on an army of nearly one hundred yakuza.) Though there’s plenty of the sadistic misogyny that defines Tarentino as a cold-hearted egotist who seems immensely gratified seeing women tortured (you’re reminded of his glee with his captive in “From Dusk Till Dawn”), there’s also an overt desire to explain them—he gives each of the first part’s major female characters the baggage that comes with being a woman. (Thurman grieves over the child she carried at the time of her attempted murder; Vivica A. Fox’ young daughter interrupts their confrontation; and Liu’s childhood character—in a chilling anime sequence—watches her parents slain and is a victim of pedophilia.) It’s a bid for a pass that doesn’t work: he can’t help but dress up his observations with clever stylizations and he throws them into the mix as juicy tidbits merely to provoke discussion among his acolytes. Still, the film is great fun to watch, a nerd’s passionate desire to regurgitate every exploitive action scene he’s ever watched within the context of his art and surprisingly it comes off as sincere and reverent.