I would warn of spoilers, but considering there’s a Kill BIll volume 2, I think we all know how this movie ends, don’t we?
Kill Bill Volume 1 seems to be a sort of experiment. How far can a movie go on style alone?
The plot of Kill Bill is so basic and simplistic that it’s frankly amazing that Quentin Tarantino managed to milk four hours out of it. A woman is about to get married and have a baby when her bitter ex-boyfriend and his buddies (who happen to be samurai or something) show up and shoot everyone at the wedding. But it turns out that the Bride (yes, that is actually the only name the main character is ever given during the entirety of this movie) is a ninja or something, too, and she wakes up after a long coma and decides to kill the 5 people responsible for the massacre. AS well as about 500 other random Japanese people that get in her way. Who is Bill? Who is the Bride? Why does everyone have samurai swords and name themselves after snakes? All good questions. And the answers? *** that shit. We ain’t got enough time for all that plot stuff, this here’s a action movie.
The plot makes B-list action movies like Commando seem cerebral and well-thought-out by comparison.
Cerebral entertainment at its finest.
But despite the fact that this should be a face-palm inducing snoozefest, it manages to be surprisingly entertaining, due mostly (by which I mean entirely) to the directorial techniques of writer-/director Quentin Tarantino. He hasn’t got all that much in the way of story, so he compensates by throwing in as many jazzy songs, flashy camera tricks, spoofs, references, homages, and kick-ass fight scenes as he can. He changes the movie from color to black and white and then back again. He throws in Japanese and Spanish songs during samurai duels just because he can. He films an entire scene without cutting between cameras. He blows about half his budget on gallons and gallons of fake blood.
The result is a fun, colorful movie that will either entertain you or annoy the *** out of you. Even if it does manage to entertain you, though, it never really immerses you.
The reason for this is pretty basic. The entire movie revolves around a quest for revenge, but we never actually get to see the thing our protagonist is getting revenge FOR. We never get to see her fiance, and while I’m sure he was a terribly swell guy and all, it’s a little hard to get riled up about a guy who died before the movie even started. I guess they killed her unborn baby, too. And that’s sad, because everyone loves babies.
Next, we don’t even know if our protagonist is worth rooting for. I mean, she seems to be a ninja assassin herself. It’s pretty clear that Bill and the other 4 samurai wannabes the Bride is trying to kill are assholes, but are they any worse than her? Why should we root for one wierdo ninja-assassin over another? It’s not because we are so deeply invested in her character, that’s for sure. I mean, we don’t even know her freaking’ name.
Instead of providing us with a little backstory on our protagonist, the film inexplicably gives us a ten minute anime sequence detailing the back-story of one of the 4 goons on the Bride’s death list, Lucy Liu. Considering that Lucy Liu is barely in the movie, this scene is so random that I honestly have no idea why it was in the movie at all. Looks like Quentin Tarantino likes anime? Good to know, I guess?
Anyway, after that randomness, the Bride goes to Japan on a plane where apparently samurai swords don’t count as weapons.
This is the only clip I could find of this ridiculousness. It contains spoilers if you speak Italian.
She gets to Japan and encounters Lucy Liu’s gang of 88 thugs who for some reason all use katanas even though this is the twentieth century and a gun was seen earlier in the movie so obviously they exist in this universe. Yes, we are actually expected to believe that Lucy Liu managed to conquer all the organized crime in Tokyo…with 88 guys with swords.
Naturally, since no one was smart enough to bring a gun, or even a friggin’ crossbow, the Bride is able to carve up these 88 losers. Lucy Liu conveniently stands in the background not doing anything. Just like every video game boss ever.
After about an hour of fighting (yes, that is actually about how long this whole scene takes), the two finally face off in their final duel. Lucy Liu cuts Uma Thurman for 20 damage. Uma Thurman strikes back for 15. Then Uma Thurman uses mega spin attack and delivers a headshot for 80 damage.
After that we get a little montage of clips from the next movie and some other stuff as well as a big plot twist that I actually WON’T spoil.
Somehow in a whole two hours Uma Thurman only managed to kill two people out of the 5 on her list despite being unburdened by plot or character development. Which means there has to be a sequel.
So what’s the verdict?
Basically this: on a technical level, Kill Bill has it where it counts. It’s got style, it’s flashy, it’s cool, and it should keep you entertained. It’s a bit lacking in the story department, but that’s where Volume 2 comes in. As a stand alone movie, it’s a failure. As part of a whole…it’s ok. Not great, but too damn badass, and, well, out-there to be bad.