KILL BILL
VOL. 1

Starring:
Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Michael Parks, Julie Dreyfus, Chiaki Kuriyama, Donny Chiba, Gordon Liu and David Carradine

Writer/Director:
Quentin Tarantino

Running Time:
100 mins

Out to buy on DVD 19/04/04

"We have unfinished business"

The Bride

Leaving the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad is not an easy thing to do. When you think you are out, even been The Bride (Thurman) and pregnant on your wedding day doesn't make you immune from been a target. Waking from a coma four years later and realising that your fiancÚ and unborn child are dead, revenge is the first thing that would cross your mind. You make a list of the five people that have taken so much, a Death List and head out to deliver some vengeance.

It's taken six years but finally the fourth film to be directed by Quentin Tarantino is here, it's just a shame they had to split it in two.

Most, if not all movie fans would have gladly sat through a three hours plus Tarantino film without a complaint ever passing their lips but the powers that be at financers Miramax and QT himself deemed it necessary to split the movie in half. We will never know if this was a marketing tool, just to copy The Matrix sequels or Tarantino's true intention but we are stuck with it.

Split aside Kill Bill Vol. 1 is still an astonishing movie. Combining everything that is great about Asian Martial Arts cinema, past and present, and then even throwing in some Anime into the mix, with his own unique vision, Tarantino has created a movie that is both mesmerising and sensational. From the shocking, no holds barred opening to the inevitable cliffhanger ending, Tarantino viscously grabs your attention and never lets go, however hard you struggle. Never afraid to mix excessive violence with comedic moments, the movie has his distinctive feel running all the way through it, even when the material that influenced the picture tries to take a strangle hold.

Central to the movie's success is the performance of Uma Thurman. Never has a woman looked so hard in Western cinema. We have had pretenders to the tiara of action queen such as Ripley from Alien the Alien movies, Lara Croft and Trinity from The Matrix but never has a western actress dealed out death with such aggression and purpose. She even gives some Asian stars like Michelle Yeoh, a run for their money. Uma has always been an actress with so much promise but never the right script to push her into the limelight. For every Pulp Fiction, Gattaca and Dangerous Liaisons there is a Batman & Robin or Avengers that drags her back to square one. This is movie that will make her the star she so rightly deserves to be.

As with all Tarantino flicks the movie is filled with talent. Lucy Liu excels as Yakuza Boss O-Ren Ishii who is as evil as she is beautiful. Liu's character is the main villain for Volume 1 and The Bride's plan for her downfall is central to the success of the movie. If the character didn't have the screen presence she has, splitting the movie in two just wouldn't have worked. Chiaki Kuriyama as Go-Go, Gordon Liu as Johnny Mo and Julie Dreyfus as Sofie Fatale, complete O-Ren's new squad and reinforce her position as the boss of bosses.

There is also exceptional support from characters that will play a much bigger role in Volume 2. David Carradine is menacing even though you never actually really see him on screen and Michael Madsen just has to appear a couple of times to look cool. Daryl Hannah's Elle Driver has a brief introduction but we get a taste for her character.

Every cinematic technique under the sun is utilised by Tarantino. The man goes to town on everything from slow motion to animation to bring this visual spectacle to life. The violence, which is a big talking point in most of Tarantino's movies, is over-the-top, even cartoon like in parts. Excessive blood spurts and the use of fast cuts takes away any sense of believability, showing the audience that this is a fictional world, far from the restraints of reality. It is Tarantino's attention to detail that is the true delight. He pays homage to the Chop-Socky movie and shows a true passion of every aspect of Asian cinema, old and new. From hiring master Yuen Woo-ping to choreograph the fight scenes to casting Japanese superstar Sonny Chiba, he treats the material and ideals of the genre with the up most respect and dignity. There are so many references. Just looking at Uma's Bruce Lee inspired clothes, you know this is a movie that he has thrown all his passion for film into.

Kill Bill Volume 1 is an action packed opening act to what is a larger story. If you understand this then it makes for a far better movie. There is no reason for it to stand on its own, as you know the second part it coming. Yes there isn't as much of the trademark Tarantino dialogue as fans might have hoped but this is counteracted by some of the best real life, non-CG fighting sequences to grace the silver screen in a very long time. The movie is a cinematic tour-de-force that will live in the memory for a long time and might only be surpassed by the second volume.

PICTURE & SOUND

Presented in 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen with a choice between Dolby Digital 5.1 and dts surround soundtracks, this is a superb transfer. Tarantino's visual style to brought to life by a radiant transfer, full of bright, sharp colours and oodles of glorious red. The soundtrack is also superb which bounces to every musical number and comes alive during the fight in the House of Blue Leaves. The only disappointment is that the subtitles are quite small, even on a 36" screen.

BONUS FEATURES

The Making of Kill Bill (22.06 mins)
Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Julie Dreyfus, producer Lawrence Bender and director Quentin Tarantino talk about Kill Bill. Quentin and Uma reveal the origins of the story and each member of the cast discuss their character. Writer/director Tarantino talks about what influenced the movie and how he wanted to combine all the genres and styles that he loved growing up. He also reveals how much of a shadow the work of Sonny Chiba cast of the film and what it was like working with the great Japanese actor. He also discusses the power of music in all of his film and how The RZA came to work on the movie.

"5,6,7,8s" perform "I walk like Jayne Mansfield" and "I'm Blue"
Watch a live set from the 5,6,7,8s as they perform two songs in the House of Blue Leaves.

Tarantino Trailers
View the Kill Bill Vol.1 teaser and full trailers and catch a glimpse at the next volume with the teaser trailer for Kill Bill Vol.2.

OVERALL

There is no denying that this is a superb transfer of the movie but the complete lack of any substantial extras is criminal. It basically says to everyone but the hardened fan who has to own the movie straight away to wait until the inevitable box set or special edition is released. For those of you who haven't watched this bloody rampant tale of revenge this is a must rent but for those of you who have, only buy it if you really have to have it for completion sake.

DVD

Jackie Brown

Kill Bill Vol. 2

Pulp Fiction

Reservoir Dogs


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2003