Quentin Tarantino’s latest cinematic offering, “Kill Bill,” hit theaters last weekend. I’ve been waiting for this film since learning of its existence last year. I saw the trailer and realized that this is everything I have ever wanted from a movie.
Movies today, despite having non-stop action, are still bland and boring. I sit in the theater, thinking to myself, “Great, now they’re gonna do another bit of computer graphics, some ‘Matrix’-type special effects, toss in a pretentious plot, and that’ll be that.”
“Kill Bill” is a relief from the unfortunate releases of recent days and, at the same time, a brilliant work in its own right. Careening between different genres, it keeps you at the edge of your seat from the second you sit down until the credits roll.
Uma Thurman plays “the bride” also known as Black Mamba, a member of an elite group known as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. On her wedding day, she is shot and left for dead, along with nine members of the wedding party in the chapel where she was to be married.
Tarantino is reluctant, to say the least, to tell any story in purely chronological order, however, I am not. Suffice to say that the movie plays out in a reasonably easy-to-understand order of events, and it doesn’t take nearly as much work to understand what happens when as, say, “Pulp Fiction” did.
At any rate, Thurman, after a substantial coma, awakes with the desire for revenge. Four years have passed since she entered the coma, and she sets out to kill the other members of the squad who were responsible for the massacre on her wedding day. The first two encounters we see are with Vivica Fox and Lucy Liu.
Fox, who was an expert with a knife, is living in what appears to be suburbia, raising a daughter – presumably having left behind her assassin’s ways, but this is the more minor of the two encounters. The bulk of the movie is the story of O-Ren Ishii, Lucy Liu’s character.
Ishii is the queen of the Japanese underworld – the leader of the Yakuza Council. Her Deadly Viper codename is Cottonmouth. In other words, she is one tough lady. To top this off, she has an insane 17-year-old bodyguard and a squad of 88 masked warriors that come to her defense – the Crazy 88.
The music, as with all Tarantino films, is great and unexpected. In “Kill Bill” it keeps pace well with the movie, which must have been very hard to do, considering the powerful and often surprising pacing.
The special effects are beautifully cheesy and intentionally so. Tarantino insisted that there not be any digital effects. As a result, instead of being bored out of my mind during the movie, I was intensely interested in everything that happened.
Thurman’s acting is good, but she is upstaged somewhat by Lucy Liu’s portrayal of a Japanese crime queen. Also worthy of note is the performance by Chiaki Kuriyama, who plays Go Go Yubari, Ishii’s bodyguard.
The film’s sense of humor is what one would tend to expect of Tarantino’s work – witty and often disturbing. That sense of humor pervades the whole film, from the dialogue down to the props.
Now, one thing that is integral to the film are the fight sequences. I don’t know too much about martial arts, so I couldn’t tell you if the sequences honor the martial arts styles they emulate.
What I can say is that these sequences are more impressive and captivating than anything I saw in “The Matrix,” and far more entertaining.
The plot of the movie, incomplete as it is when the credits finally roll, is compelling and well crafted.
Tarantino is a master of non-chronological story telling, and, despite how little of the plot has been revealed to us, the story was still fairly satisfying. That, however, does not alleviate my immense desire to find out what on earth Tarantino plans next for this story.
Spliced into Thurman’s story is the origin of O-Ren Ishii, an animated sequence, clearly done in Japanese style, relating the tragedy of her childhood and her rise to power.
The whole sequence is brilliant and adds a lot of good depth to the character of Ishii.
The film’s keen sense of humor and great casting decisions are what make this film fantastic. The fact that this is only “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” and the story is but half over, is painful, but delightfully so.
In February, the second part, in which the other Vipers are encountered and Bill is confronted, will be released. It will be a difficult four months, but I’m certain it will be well worth the wait.
Powell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.