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Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

  Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: David Carradine, Sonny Chiba, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Chiaki Kuriyama, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Uma Thurman
Links: Kill Bill: Volume 1 on the IMDb, Official site, Buy the Soundtrack, Buy on Video, Buy on DVD
Genre: Drama

This movie gets: 9.00 (2 ratings) Ranking: Ranked equal 14th of 187 movies (2 ratings minimum; see full chart)

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003) is also mentioned in pearly's review of Batman Begins (2005), pearly's review of Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), em_fiction's review of Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004), timchuma's review of Kung Fu Hustle (2004), timchuma's review of The Five Venoms (1978) and timchuma's review of The One Armed Boxer Vs. the Flying Guillotine (1975).

"Blood, brutality, brilliance and Bill" - a review by em_fiction

I can proudly say that I'm not alone when it comes to being hungry for Quentin Tarantino's next release, and Kill Bill: Volume 1 is finally here (to explain: the "Volume 1", it was supposedly too long yet too good to truncate, so it's been made into two instalments instead, Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004) to be released next year). One thing I'm pleased to incorporate in my verdict is that it sure as hell does not disappoint.

The plot is dead simple: an elite group of assassins headed by Bill (David Carradine) spring a massacre at the wedding of a member who wants to "settle down and start a new life". The target - known as "The Bride", aka Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) - is left blood-splattered and as good as dead. But what's the use with a dead hero? She survives of course, but awakens only after a four year coma and basically, the whole film is her hunting down and getting revenge on each individual responsible for the massacre. The names on her "death list" include O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) and of course, Bill.

After watching this film, my friend complained and this is what he said: "This wasn't as good as Pulp Fiction. It had a two dollar plot that even I could have thought of!" Okay, sure, I can't deny the simplicity of the plot, but that isn't what makes this film great. Tarantino has created colourful, contrasting characters who are attached to lively settings and are all blended by a beautiful soundtrack.

Personally, the pleasure I withdrew from this wildly stylish rampage was the smooth slick Tarantino atmosphere and the overall tasteful design that he brings to all his films. To me, it is this Tarantino-ism which fills in the holes and somehow creates validity for such a simple plot (in response to my friend's complaint).

The true turning point, however, is the exciting escape from reality and Tarantino's change from his usual "gabfest" (quoting Margaret) to "less talk, more action". Sure, Tarantino combines his usual dose of black humour and ultra violence, but, in addition to the usual Tarantino extremities, there is a fantasy element, genre blending, superb action sequences and the odd projection of a beauty you rarely associate with gory violence and gallons of blood. In other words, it just looks really really cool.

You can easily make out an obvious influence of the exploitation and horror genres. I'm sick of people making it seem as though Tarantino was some sort of psycho because "it was too gory" or "there was too much blood". The over-the-top violence is just screaming at the top of its lungs (please don't tell me films have no lungs) "DON'T TAKE SERIOUSLY". The violence is not unlike those cheap horror films at the video store with torn, wrinkled, faded inlays and boxes that don't seem to close without a rubber band or some decent masking tape. I'm not saying that Kill Bill: Volume 1 is cheap - the point is that it just exists in a fantasy world where anything can happen hence realism is an irrelevant topic to debate. And unlike a bad horror film, the action has style and martial art merit.

Performance wise, Uma Thurman is just fantastic. She is just so convincing, entertaining and naturally beautiful, like usual. And boy was I impressed with Lucy Liu! She can really play a nasty bitch. It reminded me of her character in Payback (1999), except with a sword instead of a whip.

I can't say that Kill Bill: Volume 1 reached the standards of Pulp Fiction (1994), but it is nonetheless extremely satisfying. And the cliffhanger ending really does leave you in some painful suspense. Tarantino has done it again.

em_fiction gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Sat 1 Nov 2003

"Won't the real *beep* please stand up?" - a review by pearly

It would be too easy to spend a whole review whinging and moaning about how Kill Bill: Volume 1 and Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004) should have been one movie: Kill Bill. So, after the end of this sentence, I won't mention it again. Well, maybe just once more. It shoulda been one movie, damnit - people can handle long movies, in fact, most people, unless they're damn fools, would prefer to pay to see one movie that contained twice the entertainment (and then one DVD, if you're that way inclined) than two separate movies at twice the cost.


It's hard for me to review a movie that is, for the most part, a really long samurai sword fight. I don't really like sword fights all that much, and I'm certainly not particularly keen on watching countless limbs being hacked off and watching the blood spurt out. I'm not saying I'm against any of this stuff per-se, it just ain't really my thing. But the thing is, Quentin Tarantino manages to make it cool. He's almost the personification of a film geek director - the stuff he puts up on screen are like this vision he has, but he knows (at least, I hope he's realised it by now) that if he puts himself on the screen, it will be supremely uncool.

I couldn't make my mind up about this movie at first. For something that needed to be split into two halves (damn, I mentioned it again), there didn't seem to be too much happening. On thinking about it after seeing it, in one instant, I would think it was great, and the next, I wouldn't know what to think. But starting to write about it now, I realise how much I enjoyed it.

If you're bored, and you have a few moments, you could spend them ranking Tarantino's films in order from least to most violent. I was, and I put Kill Bill: Volume 1 at the top. That might just be because it's fresh - I admittedly haven't seen the others in ages. I'm sure it beats Jackie Brown (1997) though.

So, aside from sword fights, Kill Bill: Volume 1 is about The Bride, a character played by Uma Thurman. She wants outta the job she's got, but her boss, some guy named Bill (David Carradine) doesn't want to let her out. He lets her know this by coming along to her wedding and killing everyone in sight. The Bride ain't so happy, so she vows revenge on Bill and the rest of his gang. And in Volume 1, she gets some (but not all) of this revenge.

Tarantino is great with visuals. This film leaps off the screen at you - it is colourful and there's so much going on; so much for the eye to see. There are the shots of Daryl Hannah's character Elle walking down the hospital corridors, the fight sequence with O-Ren (Lucy Liu) in the snow, and the awesome, awesome anime segment (the artists should definitely be patting themselves on the back).

On top of this, there's sound. I don't know how he manages it, but Tarantino soundtracks are always superb. I've been listening to this one heaps since seeing the film, and aside from the songs, I cannot get that whistling outta my head. I find it fun to whistle as I walk home from the train station, and to watch other people's reactions. People who have obviously seen the movie give me sidelong glances, but I pretend not to see them.

As for the actors, I'd say that Thurman is well supported by the rest of the cast. She's great in the role, but she doesn't shine as much as some of the others. Plus, she has got really weird looking feet! Hannah's brief appearance left me intrigued to see how her role progresses in the next installment, and the Japanese actors were awesome, particularly Chiaki Kuriyama who plays a deranged version of a Hello Kitty fanatic with delightful enthusiasm. Liu is very reserved in her portrayal, only letting loose a little, particularly for her "now's the fucking time!" speech, which is, incidentally, very reminiscent (especially in delivery) of Amanda Plummer's "execute every motherfucking last one of you" speech in Pulp Fiction (1994) (so much so that I wonder whether this was on purpose).

Ahh, QT, you've done it again. Just as you think that the film is going to trail off to nothingness at the end, bang! You hear the last line and your jaw drops, and you wanna find out exactly what happens next. And so, you wait.

P.S. Japan is so very cool.

pearly gives this movie 9 out of 10.
Review created on Tue 28 Oct 2003

Movie review statistics

Number of reviews: 2
Average rating: 9.00
Lowest rating: 9 (by em_fiction, pearly)
Highest rating: 9 (by em_fiction, pearly)
Rating Percentage

Reader comments

  1. Coolness does not maketh the movie.

    Having the manga melodrama extend to the real segments of the film in blood fountains replacing arms when hacked off makes the violence ridiculous.

    Tarantino himself expressed surprise that this and the funkification of the violence led to a lowering of its' violence rating, because it was not so realistic.


    Rating given: 5

    A comment from Adam ( on Thu 30 Oct 2003 14:25 #

  2. An amazing post-modern movie- exemplifying a range of techniques such as inter-textuality, chronological and other forms of fragmentation, symbolism, an eclectic mix of genres, and a pastiche of the violence portrayed by the media, as well as many more devices. It does so providing for stimulating viewing and an extremely entertaining hour and a half.

    Rating given: 10

    A comment from Evatt C A Styles on Wed 05 Jul 2006 03:15 #

Those who have commented give this movie: 7.50 (2 ratings)

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