KILL BILL Vol. 1MOVIE REVIEW
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Head Production Designer
JOSEPH CROSS, BRIANA EVIGAN,
Special Effects Make-Up
A SIERRA NEVADA
(MICHAEL MADSEN & JOHN SAVAGE).
I'll be quite honest right off the bat. I'm mad for Quentin Tarantino movies. I came
into his world with RESERVOIR DOGS and again with PULP FICTION. In between
these, I was amused if not ecstatic by his writing of TRUE ROMANCE and
NATURAL BORN KILLERS. In fact, on the latter movie, a girlfriend of mine
at the time joined me at seeing NBK about 4 or 5 times at the theaters.
We went around fondly saying to each other,
Yeah, we were nuts, but that's love for you. Too bad I went and screwed it up. Anyway...
I'm unashamed in my love for FROM DUSK TILL DAWN where Quentin (the Q) teamed up with Roberto Rodriguez. That movie rocks like few others. Still, at some point there has got to be a stumble, right? How long can someone stay on top of their game?
It varies from person to person, but I'm telling you right up that KILL BILL fucking Rocks!
If I ever meet Quentin I'll just out and say - without the grasping mewl of some pasty fanboy and without the cloy jade of presumed indifference - DUDE! YOU TRULY ROCK!
After some crazed Roger Corman style sixties music for an intro, replete with garish colored "And Now Our Feature Presentation" psychedelic swirls, we are immediately treated to a quote and a joke. Then we see who we will come to know as The Bride (Uma Thurman: KISS DADDY GOODNIGHT, CHEERLEADER CAMP II, FINAL ANALYSIS, JENNIFER EIGHT, PULP FICTION, GATTACA, PAYCHECK), laying on the floor, beat up, bloody, and in a wedding gown. She can barely speak. A man's hands start touching her face, wiping away her blood, and asking her if she thinks he's sadistic. He points a gun at her and says, "This is me, at my most masochistic."
"Bill!" The Bride blurts out, "It's your baby-" and a bullet is fired into her skull, splashing blood across the floor from out the back of her head.
In the city of Pasadena, California, in a pleasant neighborhood of happy colored houses: The Bride drives up in a yellow truck, walks up to a happy house, knocks on the door, and gets in a violent fight with the woman (Vivica A. Foxx: IDLE HANDS, TEACHING MRS. TINGLE).
The only thing that stops the fight is the school bus arrival of the woman's daughter. The Bride is clearly out for murder, yet nods to a silent agreement with the woman not to fight and kill her in front of her daughter. We soon come to learn of their history. The woman's name is Vernita Green Bell, but she used to be the assassin Copperhead. Copperhead was one of those who killed her fiance, her friends, and tried to kill her. Copperhead is revenge number 2.
Quentin is the only person I know that can write a story that moves forward through a series of seemingly disjointed flashbacks - even the worst sin of flashbacks within flashbacks.
Flashbacks are often the kiss of death as the momentum of the now scene is interrupted to fill in a gap. And, as has been seen when others direct his screenplays, Quentin is the only director who can tell such a story. Quentin is also the only person I know who can routinely have his entire film narrated without it all coming across as irritating exposition. It IS exposition, and lots of it, but Quentin - even with blood and amputated limbs flying in a choreographed dance of slow motion - lulls us with the narrator's voice describing why the horrors we witness, must be. Then, at turns, he amuses us by playing cheesy 70s music reminiscent from TeeVee cop shows and low budget action movies.
Hours after Bill delivered the coup de grace: the local El Paso police arrived on the scene, and were surprised to find the bride is still alive.
Later that night (pick a night. Any night. One night), a one eyed villain in the form of Elle Driver aka California Mountain Snake (Daryl Hannah: THE FURY, BLADE RUNNER, THE TIE THAT BINDS, THE GINGERBREAD MAN) dressed up as a fetish nurse and, armed with a hypodermic needle, prepares to finish the job that Bill started on the now comatose person of The Bride. There is no love lost between these two, but it's clear that Elle respects her prey. The Bride is helpless; remains in a coma; but of course, escapes. There are many seemingly impossible escapes for The Bride throughout the movie, and while some plot holes and gaps in the story are intentional (making it, in fact, nearly impossible to tell when Quentin is joking and when he is off the mark), no escape from seemingly certain death throws you out of the picture in disbelief.
It is rare, if ever, that I have thrown out the word masterpiece, when speaking of a movie. But KILL BILL Vol. 1 is that unquestionably. Every scene, every camera angle, seemingly every frame is a considered work of art that tells a tale that is far from art house, even while acknowledging their influence. Q and U for Quentin and Uma (the creators of this film) have made one of the best movies I've ever seen.
Originally filmed as one complete movie, it was a Miramax executive decision to split KILL BILL into two films. In Vol. 1, The Bride will have to face off against Copperhead (Fox) and Cottonmouth (Lucy Lui: CITY OF INDUSTRY, PAYBACK, BALLISTIC: Ecks vs Sever, CYPHER) KILL BILL Vol. 1, then ends on a cliffhanger. As the final twist to the tale implies, in Vol. 2, Bill has a terrible secret that will certainly be The Bride's undoing.
First and foremost, this movie is a tribute to all the Hong Kong chop socky movies that Quentin grew up loving so much (apparently even more than me!). Like any good student, he takes the teachings of his masters and improves on them. This is the coolest fight movie I've ever seen. But it is also, in every sense of the word, a Thriller movie; a Mystery movie, and in so many ways, a Horror movie. The Bride is constantly beset by seemingly impossible odds and the results are horrifically bloody and gory to the point of making the "R" rating this film got bulge at its seams. But KILL BILL is more than just a revenge fantasy, it is at its heart, a morality play that hinges on justice and redemption. The Bride is more than just a wronged victim going after her would be assassins, she was once an assassin herself.
KILL BILL Vol. 1 rates 5 full Shriek Girls.
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