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Kill Bill: Volume One

The Bride is Gonna Get You

Imagine for a moment that Quentin Tarantino is a cow. A healthy black and white spotted milk cow, living in the magical rolling Green Mountains of Vermont. Is there any doubt that the hapless farmer milking Mr. Tarantino each morning would, instead of extracting warm, fresh milk, would instead find himself with buckets and buckets of stylish hyper-violence? Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown. And now there's Kill Bill: Volume One. Much to the chagrin of Ben and Jerry's and organic lovers everywhere, it seems that this particular writer/director has been taking Bovine Growth Hormone, because Kill Bill is about twenty times more graphically violent than even Reservoir Dogs.

Uma Thurman stars as The Bride, a former member of a brutal assassin squad led by the film's resident Predicate Nominative, Bill. Bill is played by David Carradine, although all we have of him in this first volume is his voice. The rest of Bill's killing squad are Ellie Driver (a cyclopic Daryl Hannah), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), and O-Ren Ishi (the very fun-to-look-at Lucy Liu). Apparently some shit went down between Bill and The Bride, because Bill and his crew put a real hurt on her, leaving her in a coma for four years.

When she awakens, The Bride vows her revenge, making a list of all the people that she'll need to kill. Of course, Bill headlines the list. The Bride's first stop after mind-over-mattering her muscle entropy away is Okinawa, where she finds a famous retired sword-maker. She asks him to make one more sword, one that will help her rid the world of the swordsmith's former student, Bill. Because he's got some history with Bill, he agrees. Soon enough she heads to Tokyo to take on O-Ren Ishi.

In order to minimize revealing the plot, that's where I'll stop.

Kill Bill: Volume One follows in the stylistic footsteps of Tarantino's other films. There are numerous cinematic mediums used: black and white, cartoon, funky angles, weird color filters. And the story jumps around, of course. Tarantino seems to despise the chronological. Also, the fact that the long film had to be chopped in half so as not to ruin the integrity of the storylines and character development is somewhat strange; it ends abruptly. Thus, it's hard to finish describing the general plot without knowing it. It will be interesting to see what sort of recap, if any, Volume Two contains. As of right now, Miramax has it slated to be released sometime in February of 2004.

For all of its style, Kill Bill is definitely not a seamless piece of work. The film's humor is a strange tone, and the numerous title cards in a myriad of retro-trendy fonts become tiresome, although some of them are quite funny. Finally, the ultra-violent nature of the film is certainly not for everyone. In one scene The Bride, with her Japanese steel, must un-limb or decapitate at least fifty people. Sure, it's bordering on cartoon violence, but it's an all-out bloodbath. Still, it's a Tarantino movie, and kung fu and Tarantino enthusiasts alike will likely flock to see it. It's definitely a very cool movie to watch, and if you can get past the tenfold of headless necks spraying fountains of blood, you'll probably enjoy it.

STARS: 3.5 out of 5

*Tentatively; the final analysis will have to wait until Volume Two is released next year.