Here is an another She said-He said format about Quentin Tarantino’s Kill films (2003). Here is the Bonnie’s “review” of Kill Bill 1.
Okay, first the disclaimer: me reviewing Kill Bill is sort of like JPFmovies reviewing Mary Poppins. This is not my kind of movie. It’s too much of a bloodbath (did I say one bloodbath? better make that plural) and even director Quentin Tarantino admits that the movie has NO moral.
On the other hand, as JPFmovies keeps pointing out, this film does belong in the genre of “girl power.” Well, that’s nice.
Here are all the things I hate about Kill Bill:
- the violence
- David Carradine playing a jerk, instead of someone who has learned something from the meditative side of his art (as he did in the original Kung Fu series)
- The portrayal of martial arts as being all about violence (okay, plus determination, but I’m still not seeing any ethics or values here)
- Um, did I mention how much violence there is in this movie? Kill Bill is so violent that the word “violent” is really sort of tame to describe it. NOT ONLY THAT, but the violence in Kill Bill is almost all the fake cartoon “let’s scatter blood all over the place and call it art” violence that I’ve come to expect from Quentin Tarantino. Even the anime violence in this film (and JPFmovies, if you want to use the anime scene or any other horrific violence, you can find that clip yourself, thank you!) is way way way too much for me.
And yet I do appreciate Kill Bill v 1 for some of what it does:
- Uma Thurman’s portrayal of one woman’s ability to use sheer grit and determination to pull herself out of a coma and to keep going no matter how badly the odds are stacked against her
- The Hittori Hanzo scene with Sonny Chiba (might as well just include that as a clip – see below)
- The scene with Lucy Liu, for several reasons. First, as I mentioned in the Hero review, I like the cinematography of this scene. The snow, the blue light, the starting/stopping of the sound track to match the action, the wood fountain piece that keeps filling up and emptying itself out prosaically as if there were no swordfight going on right next to it. Second, I like the moment when Uma has been injured and says to Lucy Liu, “Come at me with everything you’ve got.” Why? At that moment, it’s not her grit and determination I admire. It’s her character’s ability to see her one chance and simply go for it. Because the fact is that her one chance to get out of that swordfight alive is precisely for her opponent to come at her with everything she’s got. Uma (I refuse to call her character The Bride just because she begins the movie in a wedding dress) at that point is supposed to be exhausted from the fight with Liu’s Crazy 88 bodyguards, and she’s just been injured. Does she have the energy to even bridge the gap to reach Liu and attack her? No. So she marshals the energy she does have, instructs Liu to do the work of bridging the gap, and watches for the opening that must be there if she can spot it fast enough to use her last reservoir of strength to exploit it. There’s something about that moment. It’s that “all you have to do is do this right just this one time, and by the way, this one chance is all you get” feeling. Doesn’t that give you chills? Am I the only one who finds that not only is this scene, in its cinematography, reminiscent of many of the scenes of Hero, but it also exactly parallels Miyamoto Musashi’s response to his injury in his fight with Inshon in the Japanese television series recreation of Musashi’s life.
- Finally, I respect Tarantino’s desire to pay homage to the Hong Kong action films that shaped him as a filmmaker. I just wish he could have found a less bloody way to do so. After all, they did.
There’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 for you, JPFmovies – I dare you to review Kill Bill Vol. 2 and find a bit more redemption of Tarantino in it for me. Uma doesn’t need to redeem herself – training for and filming a martial arts movie three months after having a baby, while still nursing and trying to lose her pregnancy weight, is enough to leave me in awe of her for all time. Tarantino, on the other hand, still has some explaining to do!!
December 30, 2011 at 10:48 am
I’m not a huge fan of Kill Bill myself, but I do enjoy the first part quite a bit. In terms of the violence and your final point about HK films being less bloody than this, Tarantino is specifically paying homage to the Shaw Bros films of the 70s (many of which were directed by Chang Cheh) which are all incredibly bloody and very violent. All kinds of limbs being hacked off, over-the-top gushes of blood going everywhere, people impaled on bamboo spikes, etc. Personally as a huge Shaw Bros. fan, the violence here doesn’t remind me or feel like 70s Shaw Bros violence, but that’s specifically what he was going for.
Fun review though, and I look forward to the subsequent parts!
December 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm
I am glad you summarized some of the points I was going to make in my counter-review. It seemed to me at least that much of the violence (i.e. the crazy 88 scene) was so over the top that it was not disturbing as some make it out to be. Like the 70’s hk films, which you are right had some crazy things happening in them, the violence looked fake and at some times almost laughable. I think that some of the Kill Bill scenes have that same quality, look or feel. I don’t know but I am going to raise your points in the counter review.
December 31, 2011 at 9:15 pm
Thanks for your comments, Silver and JPFmovies. But…if you read a violent scene in a book, that’s as fake as it gets, right? Not even any red paint. But it can still be disturbing because your imagination does the job. Likewise for these violent bloody movies even if you think they don’t look realistic — you know the red paint is meant to represent blood, your brain interprets it as such, and your brain can be pretty f—ing realistic. In fact, your brain can present those details with such realism that it’s as if you were there. That’s why I don’t think horrific violence in movies is so harmless as everyone else believes it to be.
I don’t understand why a moviemaker who could use the power of film to put inspiring or wonderful memories (because they do become your memories, in some ways as real as things that actually happened to you), would instead choose to fill your brain and your memories with horror or even with evil. There is enough real violence in the world. We’re not so short of it that we need to stock up on the fake kind.
In some cases, though, I think the depiction of violence in movies IS warranted, and that’s in those cases where the filmmaker is making a point about violence and trying to get across the horror of war, for example. Or in cases where the film is about the human spirit triumphing against unbelievable odds by staying in the present moment — which is so often the case in Red Cliff. And to that extent, I can appreciate Kill Bill for Uma’s character and her portrayal of absolute unyielding determination and strong spirit.
But thanks for your two cents, guys!
January 8, 2012 at 1:05 am
Well I am going to have to disagree with you on your point about reading a violent scene in a book. The images that a violent passage in book, depending on how written, certainly can be as violent or even more so because the only limits when reading are your imagination, which goes well beyond what can be produced on the silver screen. Say, for instance, reading the novel A Clock Work Orange, I know some people that can not get through more than a few dozen pages of what many consider a classic example of black satire because some of the passages were too violent for the reader to handle. What do you think about that?
January 2, 2012 at 1:43 am
I find the violence a bit nasty too. I know that there is lots and lots of gore in many kung fu movies (especially with Chang Cheh as Will mentioned above) but these movies have a moral context, the action is underscoring a set of ideals. As you mentioned in your blog, Bonnie, that is absent in Kill Bill 1 and most definitely in Kill Bill 2 (which I think is downright nasty). Maybe that’s why some of us find the violence a bit hard to take. I think Kill Bill is OK but I get a bit bored with it by the end – it’s a hollow film somehow.
January 2, 2012 at 1:45 am
Bonnie, would you be OK if I posted this blog on the Heroic Sisterhood facebook page? Some people there will find it interesting I am sure.
January 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm
It sure would be.
January 2, 2012 at 3:00 pm
Hi Dangerous, sure, I’m delighted that you think it’s worth reposting, thanks!
January 6, 2012 at 9:42 am
Oops–didn’t mean to post as my alter ego at Intuitive Blogging. Sorry for the confusion!
January 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm
It definitely is!
January 9, 2012 at 11:16 am
You might be interested to know that there have been about 18 comments on your blog left on the page. I knew they’d be interested.
January 13, 2012 at 7:40 pm
Dangerous, I went and found the Heroic Sisterhood page (finally) and it is amazing! It would take me all night to read through all the reviews there that I’d like to read! It’s rare that something on Facebook makes my jaw drop like this…what a resource! And it also shows what you can really do with Facebook if you put your mind to it…