JPFmovies does not take challenges lightly. The gauntlet thrown down in the “review” of Kill Bill 1 must be dealt with as a matter of honor. We will address with the issues raised by Bonnie seriatim. Unlike the reviewer of Kill Bill 1, the film should be placed in context before simply spouting derogatory comments about the movie. The evil Bill (David Carradine) comments, “You know I’m all about old-school.” What makes this film interesting is that the same could be said for director Quentin Tarantino. In this film, Tarantino pays homage to such great genres such as Hong Kong martial arts films, Japanese chambara films (my favorite), Italian spaghetti westerns, girls with guns and revenge. Each genre gets to bathe in the light the director’s tribute and Tarantino gives substantial screen time to each of his favorite sources of inspiration.
Kill Bill was originally scheduled for a single theatrical release, but with a running time of over four hours, it was separated into two volumes (probably because American audiences don’t have the attention span to watch a four hour movie—they did the same thing to Red Cliff). Kill Bill Volume 1 was released in late 2003 and Kill Bill: Volume 2 was released in early 2004. The volumes follow a character initially identified simply as the Bride a/k/a Kiddo. In Volume 2, the Bride (Uma Thurman) continues her revenge mission against Bill and her former colleague’s f/k/a the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS), seeking payback for their vicious objection to her wedding. Thurman handles the film’s many physical challenges and she makes the Bride a believable killing machine—or as believable as necessary in a film that surfs through a gravity defying movie cosmos. She makes the most of every scene by taking the viewer along into her struggling victories, defeats, for her savage attacks and counterattacks.
Volume II starts with the Bride flashing back to her wedding rehearsal. Bill, her former lover and the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, unexpectedly arrives to wish her well and during their discourse, it is revealed that the Bride has retired from the assassination squad and left Bill as his lover in the hopes of providing a better life for her unborn daughter. Seconds later the other assassination squad members rout the wedding rehearsal on Bill’s orders.
Back in the present, Bill goes to warn his brother Budd (Michael Madsen also in Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (1992)), a bouncer at a “gentlemen’s club” and former Deadly Viper member, that he is next on the list. Here Budd (at least partially) takes responsibility for his actions confessing that she (the Bride) deserves her revenge and that they deserve to die. It is interesting to note that the only character who acknowledges his culpability is the only member that is not killed by Kiddo. Yes he dies a painful death, but not at the hands of Kiddo. When Bill asks if he has been keeping up with his sword skills, Budd (untruthfully) also tells his brother that he pawned his priceless Hanzō sword in El Paso for $250.00.
She arrives at his shoddy trailer and bursts through the door, expecting to ambush him, but Budd is waiting for her and shoots her in the chest with a double-barreled shotgun full of rock salt, then drugs her. Budd calls Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), another former Deadly Viper member, and offers to sell her Kiddo’s Hanzō sword for a million dollars cash. He then seals Kiddo inside a coffin and buries her alive.
A flashback takes us to Bill dropping Kiddo off to be trained by the legendary martial arts guru Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). After what looks like torture, she eventually gains his respect and learns a number of techniques, including the art of punching through thick planks of wood from inches away, and a skill taught to no-one else of killing using non-lethal touches to certain pressure points. She uses the former skill to break out of the coffin, claws her way to the surface, and then asks for a glass of water.
Elle arrives at Budd’s trailer for their transaction but has hidden a lethal black mamba with her money. The snake kills Budd. Elle calls Bill and blames Kiddo for his brother’s death, and thinking that Kiddo is still buried alive, takes the credit for killing Kiddo. As she exits the trailer, she is ambushed by Kiddo, who had arrived there soon after Elle. In the middle of an all-out melee in the trailer, Elle taunts Kiddo with the news that she poisoned Pai Mei out of revenge for his snatching out her eye after she called him a miserable old fool. In return, Kiddo then plucks out Elle’s remaining eye and leaves her screaming and thrashing about in the trailer with the pissed off black mamba.
Now all that is left is Bill. Kiddo finds him deep in the Mexican countryside, and is shocked to find her four-year old daughter B.B. (Perla Haney-Jardine) alive and well. She spends the evening with Bill and B.B watching “Shogun Assassin II.” After B.B. has gone to bed, Bill shoots Kiddo with a dart containing a truth serum and questions her. A flashback recalls Kiddo’s discovery of her pregnancy while on an assassination mission, and her resulting decision to call off the assignment and leave the squad. Kiddo explains that she ran away without telling Bill in order to protect their unborn daughter from him and his life. Though Bill understands, he remains unapologetic for what he did, explaining that he’s a murdering bastard and there are consequences to breaking the heart of a murdering bastard. They fight, but although Kiddo loses her weapon, she disables Bill with Pai Mei’s super fatal pressure point technique, which he secretly taught her. Bill, aware of the technique and that he will shortly die, makes his peace with Kiddo and dies. Kiddo departs with B.B. Later they are seen watching cartoons in a hotel together.
A long movie, yes. A good movie, yes. The complaints that it is too violent I think are unwarranted as the violence is reminiscent of the over the top martial arts films of the late 1960’ and 1970’s. Like the martial arts films of the 60’s and 70’s, the violence is to over the top is comical. When Kiddo chops off a limb what is obviously thick red paint spews from the victim like a fountain—just like the movies Tarantino is emulating. There is little attempt at realism here instead it borders on the absurd (which is fine by me).
As for Carradine playing a jerk, let us not forget this film resurrected his career and proved that he could play roles other than is most famous Kwai-Chang Kane character from the 1970’s series Kung Fu as well as bringing Sonny Chiba back to the silver screen.
January 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm
This is one of my favorite movies of all time. I love it!
January 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm
Finally someone that has something positive to say about this movie!
January 2, 2012 at 1:13 am
I am a bit underwhelmed by Kill Bill 1. It is obviously a tribute to the genres you mentioned, but it apes them rather crudely. It’s not the worst film I’ve ever seen but I get a bit bored by the end of Kill Bill 1. I abhor and detest Kill Bill 2. Nasty, gratuitously violent and misogynistic.
January 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm
Damn dangerous if I knew you felt so strongly about the film I may not have reviewed it!