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Kill Bill volume 1 DVD Review

Kill Bill volume 1

October 21, 2002

Director: Quentin Tarantino,
Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Liu, Michael Jai White, Chia Hui Liu, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sonny Chiba, Larry Bishop, Laura Cayouette, Julie Dreyfus, Samuel L. Jackson, Caitlin Keats, Kazuki Kitamura, Jun Kunimura, Julie Manase, Chris Nelson, Kenji Ohba, Stevo Polyi, Shana Stein, Bo Svenson, Quentin Tarantino, Venessia Valentino, ,

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DVD Review

If Jackie Brown (1997) was Quentin Tarantino’s affectionate homage to ’70s Blaxploitation films, then Kill Bill, Volume 1 (2003) is his unabashed love letter to martial arts and Yakuza films from the same decade. The opening credits that feature the vintage Shawscope logo (the Shaw brothers were responsible for producing some of the most memorable genre films of the period) and the casting of veteran cult film actors like Sonny Chiba and David Carradine, firmly establish Tarantino’s intentions-Kill Bill was made by and for movie geeks.

Four years ago, the Bride (Thurman) was viciously beaten and left for dead by her ex-boss, Bill (Carradine) and her ex-teammates from the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. They also slaughter her husband-to-be and their entire wedding party. The Bride goes into a coma and her unborn child is killed. Four years later, she awakens and is understandably pissed off. She makes it her mission in life to get much deserved revenge on the people responsible for destroying her life.

Tarantino sets the bloody, over-the-top tone of his movie with the encounter between the Bride and Copperhead (Fox), the second person on her list (we find out who was the first later on), now retired. It’s a bloody, drag-down, knock-out fight to the death; impressively choreographed by none other than Yuen Wo Ping (he did all the fight scenes in The Matrix movies). However, Tarantino turns this fight on its head when the retired assassin’s daughter comes home from grade school. The women stop their deadly duel and talk nice to the little girl in order to get her out of the room so that they can resume their fight.

Like with his other films, Tarantino expertly shifts from comedy to drama to tragedy and back again on the turn of a dime. He does it so effortlessly and in a way that never disrupts the flow of the movie. And Kill Bill moves with the smooth rhythm of an expertly orchestrated piece of music. Tarantino is an astute student of film and knows exactly how to manipulate an audience and get a desired reaction out of them.

Tarantino is often compared to Brian De Palma in the sense that both filmmakers are notorious for lifting bits of scenes from other movies that they admire. Kill Bill is no different as Tarantino quotes from the films of Bruce Lee, Seijun Suzuki and Kinji Fukasaku (and even De Palma!) to name just a few. Let’s be honest, all filmmakers quote from other movies, Tarantino and De Palma are simply more obvious about it. Supporters claim that they are paying tribute to these films, while detractors say that they are shamelessly ripping them off. Somewhere in between is the truth.

Special Features:

“The Making of Kill Bill” is a 20-minute featurette. Uma Thurman and Quentin Tarantino thought up the idea for Kill Bill on the set of Pulp Fiction (1994) and then went their separate ways. Seven years later they met and resurrected the project. Tarantino had never made a full-on action film before and wanted to face the challenge that so many filmmakers he admired had done before. Thurman did a ton of work for the role: she learned to speak Japanese, trained for all kinds of stunt/wire-work and sword fighting with none other than Sonny Chiba. For a promotional puff piece it is very informative and well-made.

Also included is footage from the set of Kill Bill of the 5,6,7,8’s performing two of their songs, “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” and “I’m Blue.” This is a cool, all-girl Japanese surf band that Tarantino discovered during one of his visits to Tokyo. In many respects, they resemble another Japanese all-girl band, Shonen Knife, only with even more energy! This is a fun extra.

Finally, there are trailers for all of Tarantino’s films.

Fans of the film may be disappointed in this DVD’s lack of extras. Tarantino has stated in interviews that he plans to release a special edition set of both films loaded with extras after Volume 2 finishes its run in theatres.

Kill Bill is an epic, blood-drenched tale of revenge. Tarantino’s six-year hiatus has not mellowed him out at all. His new movie is a rip-roaring ride filled with dynamic action set pieces and outrageous violence in the grand tradition of Japanese samurai films. Kill Bill is a lovingly crafted homage to ’70s grindhouse cult movies that should have fans of Tarantino eagerly anticipating Volume 2.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 89%

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