Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica Fox
I need to acknowledge up front that this is a movie that most people either love or hate, as is the case with most of Tarantino’s films. This violent film followed up Tarantino’s success with Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown. The cast includes a wide range of popular actors including Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, and Vivica Fox. This was the first of two films in the series inspired by Lady Snowblood a 1973 Japanese film.
The Bride (Thurman) wakes up from a coma to find that the baby she carried is gone and her new life has been destroyed. Now she’s bent on revenge against Bill (Carradine) and his squad of killers known as The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. With her own specials skills she’s on a mission to hunt down those responsible. Her list includes Vernita Green (Fox), O-Ren Ishii (Liu), Elle Driver (Hannah), Bud (Michael Madsen), and Bill (Carradine). She’ll be bringing all of her murderous rage and skills as a killer as she seeks her revenge.
This movie is a collection of Quentin Tarantino’s guilty pleasures. He is an amazing student of cinema and his knowledge shines in this movie. The film is an homage to Japanese film and choreography which is evident throughout the action sequences. The intense nature of the characters works well with the graphic nature of the movie. In addition, the movie takes on a unique and wonderful soundtrack similar to some of his other films. Not since The Karate Kid have panpipes been used so effectively.
Like I’ve already stated, most people either love or hate this movie. I find myself in the first category. The music, visual styling, and the story all work great for me. The over-the-top sequences are ridiculous but amazing to me. The violence is so graphic that it takes on an almost surreal feel that makes it hard to turn away from.
The acting is unique and intentionally overdone. Thurman is a familiar face to Tarantino fans with her previous role in Pulp Fiction. She does a great job here with the physical demands of the role, as well as the acting work that brings the whole movie together. This is a role suited for her that feels more natural than some of the other parts she’s played. She’s placed opposite some great performances from Fox and Liu, each having to take on the acting as well as the physical demands of this movie.
Overall this isn’t a movie for everyone. I’d caution people to keep this to an adult audience due to the graphic violence. Despite this, the movie is more than gratuitous violence. The story is deep and interesting and worth watching. I give this movie 4.5 out of 5 stars. Combined with the sequel it creates a really interesting story with some memorable moments.
Running Time: 111 minutes