Film: Kill Bill: Vol. 1

Posted on December 19, 2010

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Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Directed by Quentin Tarantino (2003)
jusco’s Rating: ★★★★

Quentin Tarantino is one of the greatest and most consistent film directors around (don’t forget eccentric). This film is no exception of the high quality expected of his works. It is easily one of his most accessible films and an exciting cinematic piece of art. The premise is simple: The Bride undertakes an epic journey of revenge, having to defeat four professional assassins before reaching her ultimate prey, that is, Bill. You have to understand, Bill had his heart broken by her, and thus he had no choice but to slaughter her fiancé, her fiancé’s family, and of course, her as well (conveniently done by putting a bullet through her head). However, she miraculously survived and thus the stage is set for an ultimate tale engorged with spiteful vengeance. Honestly, I seriously doubted that I would derive any pleasurable enjoyment from this. It didn’t quite sound like my cup of tea. But if you put morals aside (kids, revenge is bad), Kill Bill is a highly engrossing action-packed flick that never ceases to entertain.

(Uma Thurman as The Bride, forever blood-stained throughout her quest for revenge)

Uma Thurman delivers a spot-on performance as the main character, angst-filled and extremely frustrated, but equipped with fierce determination. This lady means business and you know better than to get involved when she starts wielding a samurai sword, chopping limbs and heads off as if it were second nature – no, it’s probably more like first nature. In Vol. 1, she faces two of the four assassins; but it is the second assassin, O-Ren Ishii played by Lucy Liu, which the majority of the film involves – an anime-style flashback sequence of her childhood is ingeniously crafted.

(Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii, a deadly assassin and head of the Japanese yakuza)

The highlight of the entire film is a lengthy fight between The Bride and O-Ren Ishii’s henchmen in a Japanese-style night club, reminiscent of The Matrix Reloaded’s battle with multiple Agent Smiths. It is epic. Beautifully choreographed and shot, I was unable to draw my eyes away from one of the most spectacular fight sequences I’ve seen. Unfortunately, The Bride and O-Ren Ishii’s showdown at the end was overshadowed by this sequence; extremely disappointing but considering the rest, forgivable.

(The Bride vs the Crazy 88, O-Ren Ishii’s henchmen)

This is also easily one of the top three most violent, bloody and gory films I’ve seen. For those with weak stomachs, stay far away from this one. It is a film that glorifies the aestheticization of violence from start to finish; I wasn’t able to appreciate the violent extremeness as much as other viewers or critics – which I suspect is a good thing; I haven’t been fully desensitised yet – but I do understand the reason it is called stylish art. Despite being unnerving, at times it was very pretty to watch (ah, what has our generation come to, describing excessive violence as ‘pretty’ and ‘stylish’?).

(The Bride vs Gogo Yubari, O-Ren Ishii’s personal bodyguard aka Japanese high school girl; Chiaki Kuriyama can also be seen in Battle Royale)

The film pays multiple homages to different film genres and cultures, the most apparent in Vol. 1 being Japan with samurai swords and Japanese dialogue prevalent. Tarantino’s films always contain the right music, the soundtrack never failing to invoke the particular emotion he wants to draw from the audience, usually nerve-wrecking suspense, thrill and shocking excitement. When the credits came rolling on, I was a bit thrown off at the abrupt ending, even feeling rather cheated; that’s it? Then I remembered this is just Vol. 1. Needless to say, I was ready and eager for Vol. 2. Bring it on, Tarantino.

(Read my review of Vol. 2 here)

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Posted in: 4-stars, film