on November 3, 2003
"Kill Bill" is an anomaly in today's Hollywood culture. Here is a movie that neither makes you think too hard nor tears at you heartstrings--and it is a truly excellent flick. Under the shrewd (and possibly insane) hands of Quentin Tarantino, "Kill Bill" details an ultrally brutal and even more emotionally statisfying quest for revenge.
Beat to a bloody pulp and shot in the head and left for dead at her wedding day, The Bride (Uma Thurman, whose name is never revealed) is carted away in a four-year-long coma. She wakes up and vows revenge. And, oh, does Thurman play revenge well. It seems that the supporting cast (Lucy Lui, Vivica A. Fox, among others) truly beat Thurman to the edge of death. Her eyes convey her emotion--the limited and brief dialogue isn't even necessary. She is surpremely convincing in every aspect of her performance, even throughout the amazingly stylish fight sequences (which put "The Matrix" to shame). She fights like a pro with samurai swords, lethal daggers, butcher knives, and frying pans.
One of the main draws to this redefining adventure is the hilarious subject matter. Tarantino goes overboard. Blood flies about like fruit punch, gushing out of wounds like a torrential downpour (sometimes, in fact, you will even wonder if the human body has that much blood), and in any other movie, that gore would force you to leave--but here, it doesn't. Why? Because Tarantino never takes himself too seriously. Fight scenes are punctuated with effective and sometimes laughable dialogue. But beneath the hokey action scenes and the cute quips, there is a real movie at work here. Tarantino dances about the timeline, bouncing the story back and forth to a dizzying point, which forces your full attention on the gradually unfolding general story. The cliffhanger ending merely seals the deal.
"Kill Bill" deserves all of the accolades it gets. Although it may seem to be a hackfest on the surface, there is true talent at work here. Uma Thurman and Lucy Lui give inspiring performances; the story, however linear it may be, it instantly grabbing; and Tarantino's masterful direction is as inspiringly as it is slightly distubring. A true masterpiece. One of the films to beat for 2003.
I want to make it VERY clear, the three stars are NOT for the movie. Kill Bill, in my view, is one of the best movies ever made but this evaluation is for THIS Kill Bill Blu-ray release.
I am totally sold on Blu and, when the Kill Bill bundle became available... well... I ordered it when Amazon offered it at a great discount. The bundle includes Kill Bill 1 and 2 and, IF you wish to upgrade your KBs I highly recommend the bundle because you could save a few dollars. There is no difference between the 2 KBs sold as individual titles and them sold together other than, possibly, the price.
I wish I had a lot to say about the Blu-ray version but I don't so, let me say what is worth saying:
- The contents of the Blu-ray version are EXACTLY those of the DVD edition, nothing more, nothing less.
- Even the artwork is borrowed from the original DVD edition.
- The 'extras' are shot in low resolution, in fact they are the exact extras you will find on the DVD.
- The resolution of the movie is, of course, higher than the DVD's and the audio is available as 'uncompressed' but nothing special was done for the Blu issue. I noticed quite a few artifacts and some graininess but, overall, the picture quality is good. It could have been a lot better. I expect a remastered edition in the near future.
Overall, I am not very happy with this edition which appears to have been put together on the cheap and in a hurry. I suspect that the digital master used to make the DVDs was quickly converted to Blu and thrown out on the market but I could be wrong.
I am looking forward to a complete and professionally done Tarantino filmography on Blu in the near future, meaning that I'd be buying the Kill Bills three times.
On deciding whether to buy this release or not it should be up to one's budget. Those who don't have the DVD edition but have a Blu player, definitely buy the Blu, preferably the bundle because one never knows when a superior version may be released. If you already have the DVD... like I said, I bought my KB 1&2 package when Amazon offered it at a very significant discount.
on January 31, 2004
Kill Bill vol. 1, the 4th feature from Quentin Tarantino, delivers in most every way that we would expect from Tarantino. It is sylish as hell; the cinematography especially struck me as being more impressive than in his previous films. The final scene particularly illustrates this, with the frenetic action being conveyed through silhoutte lighting, b&w vs. color and creative shifts between them, impressive camera shots such as the rising shot right before the battle royale, and the pure cinematic epicity of the setting of the final battle between Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu. Tarantino's brilliantly dark humor is littered throughout the film as well; Buck describing how to have sex with Uma Thurman's supposedly comatose form may be offensive and appaling to some, but as it is delivered (and to all Tarantino fans), it is utterly hilarious (little details such as bucks "P---- Wagon, the "Kaboom!" cereal box, and the water fountain that serves as the only noise through much of the climatic battle also stand out). I was also very impressed with(though initially apprehensive of) the anime segment that served as a segue into the Japanese setting, it added a surprising amount of emotion, and set the feel perfectly for the rest of the film. Nearly everything is done right, beyond right. The soundtrack is amazing, as is to be expected for a Tarantino film. He has impeccable taste in music, and seems to innately know what will enhance the film; in some places it is even cheesy (the 1,2,3,4s in the Japanese club) but we know that this is all intended, as is the "Feature Presentation" card at the beginning; Tarantino is someone who is obviosuly in love with film, and this film is almost an expression of love for all the "cool" films he watched growing up. I have heard Uma Thurman quoted as saying that this film is "pure, epic, Tarantino fantasy" and this is a perfect description of it. There is little to no depth, it is not a film that will stun you with its character development, or method acting, but it doesnt pretend to, or even want to. It simply revels in being the epitomy of "cool", it is an action film that is done in almost all ways, perfectly. Tarantino's gift is found in knowing what will look utterly amazing on film (again, I found myself stunned simply by the appearance of the final, snow-covered courtyard), in being able to write with a great amount of wit and intelligence, and being able to put the two together with a large amount of what must be called genius. Kill Bill isn't Tarantino's best film (an honor reserved for the utterly brilliant Pulp Fiction, [or is it Reservoir Dogs, it seems to depend on which film ive watched most recently] ), nor will it win the Best Picture Academy Award (which it doesnt deserve anyway), but it is a damn good time. Uma Thurman makes a triumphant return to film, and shocks most everyone in being able to pull off her role as the Bride perfectly; after seeing the film I cannot imagine anyone who could be more convincing. The question remains, can a film be given 5 stars based on style alone? The answer, surprisingly, is yes. I give out 5 stars very, very infequently, to only the very best of films, and while this is by no means the BEST action film ever made, it is certainly a damn good one. repeat viewing may lessen the spectale somewhat, but this reviewer was very impressed (and still is, after 3 viewings) with what he just saw. Very Highly Recommended.
on February 15, 2004
Oh, the joy of being a movie geek. This year has been a tremendous blessing for all of the human race, or just us film fanatics, as the movie gods have listened to all our prayers to deliver cinematic goodness. One of these that came as a major grace is called "Kill Bill: Volume One", the latest offering from the dark, perverted but brilliant mind of Quentin Tarantino. Last seen under the spotlight in 1997 with "Jackie Brown", we have been painfully awaiting his next move throughout a six-year-span. Well, time finally came upon us and the wait is definitely worth it.
Appropriately entitled "Kill Bill", Tarantino tells a simple revenge story, albeit through his usual non-linear storytelling structure, about a lanky blonde woman (played by the invigorating Uma Thurman) only known as "The Bride" a.k.a. "Black Mamba" who wakes up from a coma to exact revenge on her former assassin group called "The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad" lead by Bill (David Carradine), who aren't really happy of her decision to quit and marry someone in El Paso, Texas. Hence, bloody carnage ensues as Bill and the gang made of eclectic members-Budd, Vernita Green, Elle Driver and Oren-Ishii-massacres The Bride's family and guests on her wedding day, including her unborn baby. Bill saves her for last and shoots her head (on what could be one of the most startling introductions in a movie). Thinking that she's dead, they leave her cold in her blood-splattered wedding dress, which is a terrible mistake on their part, as The Bride gets up from her hospital bed after four years with furious determination and will to destroy every single one of the perpetrators, saving the best for last, which is, of course, Bill, proving that as far as justice goes, it can easily get very poetic.
However, this is only half of the story, as Miramix, the film distributor, and Tarantino himself decided to cut the three-hour long movie in half and released them four months apart. That being said, I am very sure that Volume Two will be as equally brutal and vigorously entertaining to what I've seen four times in the theaters (Yes, four times! It's that good!)
"Kill Bill: Volume One" is perhaps the most violent American movie ever (and I've seen a lot of movies). It can be easily be used as an example of how the morals of the Western world have dramatically fallen in the 21st century. But it's most important to know that this movie was made as an ode to those rare, odd, cheesy and absurd kung-fu, Western, exploitation, slasher and grindhouse movies we usually see gathering dust in the cult section of a video store or occasionally seen playing on television at 3 in the morning. Kill Bill: Volume One on the surface looks like a very empty fluff made to only shock the already seemingly desensitized viewers, but underneath, it is really a very intelligent piece of art. Intelligent in a sense that it knows the rules of the cinema: it knows it audiences are and doesn't give a damn thing or two to those who don't want to get involved. For instance, The Bride wears a yellow jumpsuit during the last hour of the movie. To the uninitiated, it's just a striking sexy vintage number. To those in the know, it's a replica of Bruce Lee's tracking jumpsuit from his 1979 movie Game of Death. And this is just only a fraction of Tarantino's endless references, in-jokes and homages to old and obscure cinema. From Brian DePalma to Godzilla, from giallo films to Japanese animations, God knows what else are there he injected. I say this movie is an entire pop culture of pop culture.
Even without this quality, it's still deliciously entertaining, boldly creative and visually arresting, it's safe to say that this is an instant classic. No, this is not an Oscar-winning movie, let alone be nominated. But not everything has to have a deep storyline with complex characters to be a great film. This movie has no substance and as empty as a dead shell. But it's an amazingly great film, nonetheless. The fact of the matter is that Tarantino made this with great respect, love and passion of the medium, that he practically utilizes everything to its full advantage from complicated camera shots (the long tracking shot of The Bride going to the washroom is incredible), beautiful cinematography (the claustrophobic and filthy Hospital environment, the beautifully exotic and bright Japanese backdrop), the amazing eclectic selections of music (from Nancy Sinatra's "Bang, Bang" to "The Green Hornet" theme song) and the excellently choreographed fight scenes as if we're watching an amazing, exhausting ballet dance with swords. Oh yeah, and the beautiful gushing of the blood and gore like water coming down from Niagara Falls.
"Kill Bill: Volume One" is an extravagant, highly-stylized, ultra-energized, uber-violent piece of celluloid. It's made up of a world were grativity is without law, violence is sheer poetry, pissed-off Caucasian women likes to play with samura swords, and even assassins have feelings. It's a world where obscure 1970's disco music goes perfectly seamless along with the motion of decapitation and maiming.
Oh what fun!
Aside from that movie that left me with tears featuring hobbits and wizards and that fetus-looking boy-fish who seems to say the word "Precciooooooussssss...." a lot, this year belongs to Kill Bill: Volume One (and I cannot wait for Volume 2!)
Thank you, Tarantino for your sick and twisted mind.
on May 4, 2005
Actually there are two subtitles, full english captioning and just the translated subtitles, the modes are Subtitle Off, Engligh 1, and English 2.
And the aspect ratio is actually letterboxed in 2.35:1 instead of the standard PSP widescreen, so I don't know what is being misprepresented. I've heard more people complain that it is in its original widescreen and not formatted to fill the PSP screen (Spider-Man 2 for example actually was cropped from 2.35:1 down to the PSP's screen size).
This is a great UMD, it has great looking animated menus, it actually HAS a scene selection menu, and it has extras too, a Making Of video and music videos. Compared to the rest of the UMD pack this disc is a feature packed jewel.
on October 8, 2004
1. If you're a serious movie fan then you've probably spent some time hanging out with friends talking about waht you'd do if you made a movie. Alot of people, myself included, talk about putting in icons from movies that we saw when we were younger but don't get alot of work anymore. You'd suspect that alot of filmmakers have converstions like this before they break into Hollywood....but for some reason they never follow up on those ideas. They've apparently forgotten what it's like to be a movie geek. Not Q.T. In Pulp Fiction he got Travolta. In Jackie Brown it was Pam Grier. And here in Kill Bill he got Carradine. All 70s icons. You just know that Tarentino was sitting around at one point with some friends talking about how he'd get Carradine in his movie no matter how old he was. Q.T. keeps it real.
2. Game of Death costume. Again, as with No.1 it's the ultimate geek fantasy to pay homage to some of your favorite films in your own film. The biker suit that the Bride wears during the House of Blue Leaves fight is a replica of Bruce Lee's suit in the movie, Game of Death.
3. Hatori Honzo. Sonny Chiba played a character named Hatori Honzo in a Japanese TV series called Shadow Riders. The thing with this show, however, is that each season contained the same characters but a completely different story that had no relation to the previous one. Q.T. decided to carry on the legacy of Hatori Honzo in his own movie by getting none other than Sonny Chiba himself to play Honzo. A true testament to Tarentino's dedication to classic filmmaking.
4. Gordon Liu. What can I say. If you've ever seen Shaolin Master Killer....then you were no doubt freaking out at the presence of Gordon Liu in BOTH Kill Bill volumes.
5. The Fights! Yeah we all know how incredible and intense the House of Blue Leaves fight is. My favorite shot being the silhouetted fighting in front of the blue backdrop similar to scenes in Samurai Fiction. But how about the brutal and realistic fight between the Bride and Vernetta Green? Since when have you seen two women fight in a movie and end up ACTUALLY SWEATING AND BLEEDING afterwards? Awesome.
Of course, there are many more reasons to love this movie....these are simple reminders as to why everyone should own this film.
on April 24, 2004
Like Pulp Fiction, the story is told out of sequence, but lack any of the witty dialog that made Pulp Fiction good. Tarantino film making is "borrowing" scenes from other directors/films and blending them into his own vision. His films are also usually interesting, and always sport quick and interesting dialogues. But they're basically popcorn movies, without any real depth of plot or complexity to the characters.
Tarantino delivers a film that struggles so hard to call attention to itself, and to its lack of originality. He has borrowed from an international grab bag of amusements, kung fu movies, spaghetti westerns, comic books, to build his B movie, and then drenched it in a bucket of blood. You almost expect their lips to move out of sync with the dialogue.
They should change the title to Kill Quentin. This movie simply did not ever need to be four-plus-hours long. By the time the last enemy is crossed off The Bride's list, you simply don't care all that much anymore. It's just Tarantino is paying homage to himself. Many scenes from would be far more interesting as filler on a Kill Bill extended cut with Tarantino commenting that "here's a scene I really liked but just couldn't use. Kill Bill is like a school paper were your the spacing and the font size turning a lousy 5 page paper into a lousy 10 page one.
on June 10, 2005
This is an incredible movie - smart, witty, sexy, sharp, and beautiful all at the same time. There are some gripes about this story not having a story, which is totally not true. The plot revolves around The Bride (a superb Uma Thurman), who was shot and left for dead during her wedding. "Kill Bill" tracks her revenge on two of the five assassins: Vernita Green (Vivica Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu, who totally redeems herself for her two mindless "Charlie's Angels" movies). This is a pure revenge film, but a wonderful and visually fantastic set-up for Volume 2, which develops the story even more and fleshes out its characters.
Still, even if Volume 1 just shows Uma Thurman getting her revenge on her assassins, it's a great film. Quentin Tarantino, a master of technique, uses his knowledge of 1970s Shaw Brothers Hong Kong kung-fu movies to create a beautiful work of art. It isn't meant to be realistic; it's meant to be extraordinary. The fight scenes are over-the-top and the fruit-punch blood spurts like geysers but this movie isn't really "violent," per say. It's so unrealistic (in a good way) that it's ironic, satirical, and funny. Tarantino's style pokes fun at, celebrates, and transcends the kung-fu movies. His writing is also often quirky, colorful, funny, and sometimes dead serious. It's a lovely combination.
If you want more examples of Tarantino's total dedication to his work, look at where he chooses to set his scenes and what kind of music he picks. Just because the movie is violent doesn't mean that Tarantino doesn't have a sense of beauty. He knows what he's doing, and one only needs to look at his use of an elegant, quiet, snow-covered garden for O-Ren Ishii and the Bride's final fight. There is also an incredibly moving and exciting anime sequence in the movie. Also, the use of the MUSIC is absolutely incredible, and one of my favorite aspects of this movie. I can't say enough good things about it. In one scene where O-Ren is being driven to the restaurant, the trumpets in the background music perfectly match the light that passes on O-Ren's face. Everything is timed so perfectly. Music is so important to this movie; you'll feel your adrenaline go right up just hearing it. It's really that good.
There is great acting in this movie...I can't think of a single character that didn't intrigue me. To single a few of them out, though: Uma Thurman gives an amazing performance. I loved how she could alternate from being funny, sexy, serious, charming, and deadly so easily... She kicks major butt in this movie, but she isn't exactly just a stereotypical, generic, tough action girl. There's a real brain and a real heart behind her character. Also, Lucy Liu (O-Ren Ishii) is so good in this movie, I personally think Tarantino should make another movie just about her. She is a character so rich and so complex, it would be a travesty to just call her only a "villain" or "The Bride's adversary." And besides, some of the best scenes in "Kill Bill" featured O-Ren Ishii and her posse. My personal favorite character in "Kill Bill" has got to be Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama), O-Ren's teenage bodyguard. Kuriyama plays Gogo with fun menace...I loved the fact that she was young, beautiful, and crazy. Just watch her in the few scenes she has...she just oozes coolness. It's that combination of the school-girl outfit, smallish stature, youngish face, long straight black hair, and beautiful deadly eyes that is just awesome. Suffice to say, I also think Tarantino should make another movie about Gogo, too. Heck...most of the main characters are so awesome and complex that Tarantino could make another movie out of any of them. It's a testament to the strength of Tarantino's writing.
"Kill Bill" is one entertaining, beautiful, smart, exciting visual bonanza. Don't pay too much attention to the people who gripe about the lack of story and excessive violence. Whatever it may be, Tarantino has presented pure storytelling at its finest. 10/10
on August 10, 2004
It's become pretty well known through publicity that this is Tarantino's fourth film, so how does it rank up against his others? Well, as much as I love Reservoir Dogs, it hasn't dated too well. Especially when compared to Pulp Fiction which basically became a classic the year it was released. He followed with Jackie Brown which was (in my eyes) a great movie, but others disagreed. After a six year hiatus from directing, America finds out that Tarantino's next movie is going to be a revenge flick centered around a woman who was left for dead on her wedding day (even though it turned out to be dress rehearsal). I wasn't exactly thrilled about the idea of the man doing a straight-action movie, but all doubts were thrown out the window during the first frame of Kill Bill. The Bride lays there helpless; crying; bloodied up. The audience doesn't know exactly what happened here, but it becomes obvious when we hear Bill ask her, "Do you find me sadistic?" The Bride's shot in the head and the credits immediately pop up with that haunting song on the soundtrack.
"The 4th Film By Quentin Tarantino."
It was then that I realized that Tarantino had not "sold out." Not even one minute into the movie yet and it's already flooded with the style of filmmaking he's known for.
I absolutely adored this movie. It's the most exciting action saga to come out of Hollywood for quite a while. Some might call it trash, but it's smart trash. Technically, the film is a marvel to behold. Tarantino loves what he does and it shows in every frame of the movie. He does plagarize a few things here and there, but the cues work so well that someone who appreciates the art of filmmaking won't mind at all.
The script is terrific, though some argued that Tarantino was a bit stingy with his infamous dialogue in this particular volume. I'll agree with this to a point. The dialogue in his movies is simply cool and one of the main reasons I enjoy his stuff so much, but the lack of it in Kill Bill doesn't hurt the film one bit. Here, it's mostly about the craft of making a movie that excites the audience but doesn't cater to the lowest common demoniator by dumbing the material down. In fewer words: lack of extensive dialogue doesn't hurt the film.
The characters are a hoot to watch. Thurman plays the Bride straight-faced; the only way to do it. You don't even see David Carradine as Bill in this one too much, but in Volume 2, he's a wonder to behold. A true scene-stealer. Doubt the Academy has the balls to nominate him for a film like this, though. Lucy Liu is the somber, yet deadly, O-Ren Ishii. The character is fleshed out in a gloriously violent anime segment and isn't tossed off as "just another bad guy." The character of Go-Go Yubari, however, is just one of O-Ren's cronies. But, for want of a better word, she simply rocks. Definitely my favorite secondary character of the series. Sonny Chiba also makes a funny cameo as Hattori Hanzo, creator of the Bride's "steel."
So, is this Tarantino's best movie yet? In my opinion: yes. If you love movies, see Kill Bill. Both volumes. As much as I loved Volume 1, I think Volume 2 is even better!
on August 2, 2004
Quentin Tarantino's films have always been propelled by great writing. The dialogue between characters is always unique and is impossible to beat. Few movies have come close to duplicating the likes of the writing in Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. In Kill Bill, Tarantino's genius definitely shows. It's the story of The Bride, whose wedding was massacred by her former business partners. Now, after waking up from a 4-year coma, she is out to get bloody revenge. Of the two volumes, Volume 1 is mostly dedicated to paying homage to older asian martial arts films and the like. It's filled with blood, gore, over-the-top violence, frequent dismemberment, and some decapitations. The film's violence turned away many people to watching it, as some of it is very disturbing. The character study and plot are less explored in volume, because Quentin has saved that for Volume 2. Having seen Volume 2, I can say that it is a better film than the first, but Volume 1 stil appeals to many people, and is still very entertaining to watch if one isn't bothered by excessive violence. 5 stars, Very entertaining.
Sidenote: Before making your judgement on Kill Bill as a whole, make sure that you watch both volumes. Volume 2 really focuses more on the story and less on the violence.