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 January 3, 2004
"Revenge is a dish best served cold."
Quentin Tarantino's fourth film and the first one since 1997's Jackie Brown takes the theme of revenge like Hamlet on steroids. It has not been an easy road for this generation's "It" director. Tarantino once worked at a video rental store before writing the script for Reservoir Dogs that he later directed. It was his directorial effort in 1994's Pulp Fiction that catapulted Tarantino, as well as the independent film company Miramax, into the Hollywood mainstream. Unfortunately his next film, Jackie Brown, which, by the way, was not written by him, was not widely accepted and then Quentin Tarantino dropped off the scene for nearly six years. In that time period he took time off to act in some films but, for the most part, the idea for Kill Bill had been bouncing around in his skull. Now that idea has burst out of that skull in all its blood spewing, gut splattering glory reuniting Pulp Fiction star, Uma Thurman, with the acclaimed cult director in a film series that pays homage to the 70's karate films that many us grew up with.
The story centers on a former member of a group of assassins who seeks revenge for the actions done on to her by her former colleagues. A woman known only as The Bride has waken up from a four year comma after her former boss Bill left her for dead on the day of her wedding killing her fiancé, the wedding party and her unborn child. Unfortunately for the skilled assassin, he made one big mistake: he failed to kill her. Now that she has awakened from her living slumber, The Bride will travel the world picking off her attempted killers one by one including the mysterious Bill. First up on her list is O-Ren Ishi, aka Cottonmouth, and her group of Japanese underground assassins. They better watch out because here comes the bride! The story for Kill Bill (Volume I) is probably one of the best scripts of the year despite being only half of the true plot. In a wonderful bit of technique, Tarantino starts the film off in the middle of story then backtracks to the events that start the chain reaction of revenge. He then flashes backwards and forwards in several instances that offer the best insight into the characters the audience is about to encounter. This gives better meaning to most of the fight sequences that take place in the course of the two hour feature.
A relative bunch of low-profile actors and actresses make up one of the better casts of the year for this film. Uma Thurman, who starred in Quentin Tarantino's breakout film, Pulp Fiction, once again works her magic for the talented director in probably her best film performance. Thurman gives a witty and exhilarating go around with her role as The Bride seeking revenge against her former colleagues. She presents a style to the character that makes you clamor for her all the way to the shocking break point. Lucy Liu has another kick-ass character performance as O-Ren Ishi, the leader of a group of Japanese assassins. The only problem with this role is that it makes Liu feel type-casted into this sort of character. Not that she bad at it, she's extremely effective in her performance, but you get the feeling that eventually she may get bored with these roles but if it works for her then ignore this comment. Vivica A. Fox doesn't really get to show much acting ability as her character is killed off in the first fifteen minutes of the film but what she does show is her amazing fighting moves, which is the only evidence needed to prove her worth in the film. This is only a small portion of the full cast, the rest of which will appear in Kill Bill (Volume II) coming February 20th.
Overall, Kill Bill (Volume I) is a wonderful kick-off point for Quentin Tarantino's best work since Pulp Fiction, despite only being half of the entire feature. Though that being said, there are a couple of things to pick at including the well-choreographed action sequences. It wasn't exactly the sequences themselves but the rather large amount of blood and gut spilling that occurred during them that had more then one person squirming in their seats. Granted having your arm or leg cut off results in a large amount of blood loss but does that blood spew out like a fountain? The campy style of violence that occurs in Kill Bill (Volume I) may seem disturbing as the feature starts off but by the end, it doesn't seem so unnatural, which says something our culture's customization to violence and bloodshed in films. The pacing of the feature seemed well balanced but definitely dragged near the end as the film wrapped in a spin-chilling conclusion for the time being. But other then those small squabbles, Quentin Tarantino gives an eerie insight into what the concept of revenge does to the human psyche and what it could potential lead people to do if not controlled. It is said in the film, revenge is like a forest. Men (and women) can easily be lost in it and lose track of where they started or where they were going, so caution must be taken when start off on this path. The famous cult director starts off with accelerating beginning; let's hope he can deliver on what the chilling twist promises.
on April 25, 2004
I can only guess that most of these reviews are based upon the fact that Quentin Tarantino is such a "down to earth" guy that some of the reviewers are hoping he offers them a part in his next film. Tarantino is the SHOCK-JOCK of movie making; in all of Tarantino's movies, his main goal is to shock the viewer with violence...got that. Yes, we got that. Boy, do we have that by now.
Kill Bill is a music video - death dance. 111 minutes of me starting to wish one of those Samuri swords Uma Thurman and Lucy Liu were flipping around might cut the tape to this dreadful VHS tape I actually rented today.
This movie may have action, but it has no drawing force to pull you into what is happening. Every fight scene last a little too long; every cut off limb spews out blood just a little too long; and I wasn't impressed with a twelve-year-old cartoon girl seducing an Asian mob-boss so she could drive a blade through his chest.
If you think Howard Stern is cool, you might like this movie. If you think profanity and rampant violence make a movie great, then by all means, rush out and buy this DVD (or buy it here at Amazon.com). But if you enjoy a movie with some substance and good dialogue, hold off on this one.
I have watched a few interviews with Tarantino, and I must say I was quite impressed with his demeanor - he seems really cool. I'm sure this review will be disliked by his fans, but I think he could have made a better film than what I just watched.