"Kill Bill--Volume I"
Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Written by Quentin Tarantino. Partially based on the film
Starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox and Daryl Hannah.
Release Year: 2003
Review Date: 10/23/03
Been excited for this one for six months,
and I’m happy to report that “Kill Bill” delivers...at least, for
this first installment.
I had read on one of those movie news
websites that Miramax had come down on Quentin Tarantino—film
artiste—for delivering “Kill Bill” at a shade over three hours
long. According to the report I read, the Weinsteins (who run
Miramax) did not want to release an action film that clocked in at
such a long running time. Tarantino, citing the fact that “Pulp
Fiction” essentially cemented the studio back in 1994 (ahh, ego),
refused to cut the film...so, to compromise, the film was cut in
half, and Miramax decided to release the first half of the film in
2003 with the sequel to come sometime early next year. This way, it
would still be up for Oscar consideration, and at the end of the
year, Miramax could still release a version of the film that had all
three hours intact if the long version was that good.
As a result, we now have the chance to see
the first half of the film, and “Volume I” is quite a ride,
especially if you like your flicks like your steak: bloody!! A
woman known as The Bride (Uma Thurman) gets shot in the head when
the film opens by some guy named Bill (David Carradine), but thanks
to some pretty impressive luck, she doesn’t die, so after coming out
of a coma four years later, she goes after Bill and his four
lieutenants all over the world. In “Volume I”, we have time to meet
The Bride, get some backstory on her situation, and then watch her
go after Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox) and Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu). You
know what’s going to happen, since without The Bride, there is no
movie, so it’s all up to Tarantino’s execution, and execute it he
A mix of just about everything, “Kill Bill”
is mostly a project that pays reverence to Tarantino’s long-standing
interest in martial arts films, and he gets so many of the little
touches right it makes you want to cry. From the sound effects to
the TV-style opening of the film, from another kitschy 70s
soundtrack to over-the-top bloody decapitations, it sure feels like
a Japanese flick, especially in the film’s ramped-up final 60
minutes, as The Bride goes to Okinawa to train before going to Tokyo
to take out Cottonmouth. The action is intense, the bodybags get
filled, and the production looks beautiful; the budget for this film
has got to be as big as all three of Tarantino’s other films
COMBINED. All this plus a 10-minute animated sequence on
Cottonmouth’s childhood make for a pretty wild theater experience.
It’s also interesting to see a film that has so few pop references
after his three previous films loaded up on them; this film is much
quieter than his other ones, a more mature effort that sticks to
filmmaking, not dialogue, to carry the day.
Personally, I would have sat through a
three-hour action film, so the decision to release this film in two
parts rubs me wrong in a half-dozen different ways; the biggest of
these is that I felt a little cheated that Miramax is trying to make
me pay double for a film that wasn’t meant to be broken in half.
Also, since this is the half that Miramax wanted to submit for Oscar
voters, one wonders if the original intention was to have the film
laid out this way; action-wise, I feel like the other two
lieutenants (played by Michael Madsen—who has NO scenes in “Volume
I”—and Darryl Hannah) won’t be as interesting to watch die as these
two were, but we do get to see what happens with Bill. Finally, I
never really got connected with The Bride; the reasons why she is
nearly killed by Bill are not revealed at all in this film, which
left me just watching the action, not caring whether or not she
survived it all.
But, this is strong work by Tarantino;
decidedly better than “Jackie Brown”, it looks like the director is
back to form.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard