Kill Bill: Volume One

After much anticipation and frothing at the mouth by fan-boys, Quentin Tarantino finally releases his latest film Kill Bill: Volume One. This is the film that Tarantino has made for himself as itís an homage to all his favourite genres Ė Hong Kong samurai movies, Anime and Westerns. The key difference between this and his other works is that there is a distinct lack of quotable dialogue, clever monologues and there is only the barest excuses of a plot in evident.

Letís get that flimsy plot out of the way; The Bride (Uma Thurman) is part of a crack team of assassins called The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad working for a mysterious man called Bill (a barely seen David Carradine). When The Bride tries to leave the group and get settled down and start a family she is terminated with extreme prejudice.

Unfortunately the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad made one mistake Ė they never quite killed The Bride. She lays comatose in a hospital for four years until one day BANG she wakes up.

Cue The Bride does the most logical thing Ė decides to get even and that means killing Bill and everyone in her path to him.

That in a nutshell is it, plot wise. Kill Bill: Volume One is not about the story its about the visuals plastered onscreen. As with all Tarantinoís films there isnít a standard linear plot, so instead there is the usual ending first, middle bit last type of thing. Itís not done as well or as clever as any of his previous efforts but luckily it doesnít detract from the film.

Performances are good with there being only three real leads in this volume, Uma Thurman as The Bride, Lucy Lui as O-Ren Ishii and Vivica A Fox as Verinta Green. The rest of the cast are either very brief or conspicuously absent. Thurman is ideal for the role of The Bride and it was a shroud move on Tarantinoís part to delay the film to ensure that she got the part.

Lucy Lui is superb as O-Ren, the first ever non-Japanese head of the Yakuza and leader of the Crazy 88 gang. Made me want to cut off my little finger and present it to her. She swings from pleasant niceties to raging violence within a heartbeat.

Itís nice to see some people who have been absent from major films for a while including Daryl Hannah (complete with eye-patch and psychotic behaviour) and the legendary Sonny Chiba.

Visually Tarantino has put together some excellent visuals such as the funky trailer music being pumped out whilst O-Ren and her henchmen do the cool slow-motion walk through a Nightclub. Its almost as perfect as the opening stroll done by the Dogs in Reservoir Dogs.

Kill Bill: Volume One has already caused some controversy regarding its excessive violence and needless bloodshed. Although the most violence aspects are shown during an Anime flashback.  It might come as a shock to some, but others (like I) who grew up watching Samurai films and Hong Kong action flicks will appreciate the almost carbon copied style. Itís cartoonish in the fact that geysers of blood go spraying from chopped limbs and severed heads Ė much like the rest of the film. Its pure escapism and nothing more, whether Western mainstream audiences can relate to it is another matter. Some will be stunned and some will enjoy the film but frown on the style. At one point the film changes to black & white in western prints whilst the Japanese version remains in colour and the reason behind this is that in colour it would have been too graphic for the Western audiences (seems that the Far East market has a much tougher stomach).

Itís nice to see a complete lack of CGI action for a change, but there is plenty off stylised wire-fu. Itís not the gravity defying Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (well, for the most part) but it is visually stunning especially when The Bride takes on the entire Crazy 88 in a mayhem of blood and gore.

Kill Bill: Volume One leaves many questions unanswered and hopefully all will be revealed in Volume Two. Personally, this Monkey could have sat through both volumes without much problem. The world of Kill Bill is a fantasy world as what other world allows a woman to carry a huge Samurai sword onto a plane? There are a few in-jokes Ė not including the blatantly obvious yellow jumpsuit as worn by Bruce Lee in The Game of Death.

So after his six year hiatus Quentin Tarantino finally gives his obsessed fan-monkeys a new film Ė is it his best? No. Is it a bad film? Definitely not. Itís just a different type of film. Letís hope that the second half, which is supposed to be more like a spaghetti Western and less like a Samurai film, can continue the momentum and not fizzle out.

Just one final note to annoy the film makers Ė The Brides real name is Beatrix and is visible on her plane ticket (itís bleeped out whenever itís spoken by any character during the film!)

Score 9/10

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