Kill Bill Vol. 1

Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors of all-time. His film's aren't exactly "deep", but they're interesting character studies into the lives of over-the-top killers, psychos, and pop-culture gurus. With the exception of Death Proof (which is only OK), I've loved all of Tarantino's films because of their interesting characters, witty dialogue, and insanely cool style. From Reservoir Dogs to Inglourious Basterds, all of Tarantino's films have been highly creative and entertaining and Kill Bill is no exception. In fact, in terms of creativity, the Kill Bill volumes might just be his most creative.

Kill Bill's plot isn't necessarily full of depth, but it doesn't need to be. It's the age-old tale of bloody revenge as a former assassin, only known as The Bride, has her wedding decimated by her former cohorts - the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Led by their leader, Bill, the Squad kills everyone present at the wedding in retaliation for The Bride's actions. However, after the massacre, it's revealed that The Bride managed to survive the onslaught that occurred at the chapel. Four years later, after The Bride finally awakens from a deep coma, revenge is sworn against those who conspired to kill her.

The characters are quite over-the-top, even for a Tarantino film. This isn't a complaint, really, because the big personalities of individuals like The Bride, O-Ren Ishii, and Bill are all able to be interesting without being too over-the-top, as if to be campy. It's easy to see what influenced Tarantino as a director, as The Bride's character seems to carry many of the characteristics held by the enigmatic Man With No Name character in Leone's Dollars Trilogy. The style and grandeur of the film also borrows heavily, obviously, from the samurai and yakuza films of Asian cinema from the 1970's. I can't say it enough - I love the characters and performances present in Kill Bill. They're stylized, they're unique, and their personalities are big enough to be felt without dialogue.

This film's greatest aspect, bar-none, is definitely the stylized visual flair. I'm not one who usually supports style being held over substance, but for Tarantino, the style here IS the substance. The characters are all interesting, but they're still just personalities. The Bride wants revenge, O-Ren Ishii wants power, etc. Regardless, the way this film is executed, it doesn't need philosophical beings - it needs only its characters and its style. It's over-the-top violence mixed together with aesthetically appealing camerawork that makes Kill Bill just as violent as it is good to look at.

The mythology behind this world Tarantino's created is also extremely fascinating. It's similar to our world, only much more violent as evidenced by the fact that one can bring samurai swords aboard major airline planes. It's almost encouraged, really. Anyway, as I was saying, the mythology really stands out in Kill Bill. The origins of the assassins, the various yakuza groups, the significance of legendary figures such as Hattori Hanzo or Pai Mei - these are all facets of this detailed and epic world that Tarantino's created.

While I love a lot about this film - the characters, the visual style, the mythology, etc. - there is one problem, sadly. Kill Bill is meant to be over-the-top, but there can be moments where it goes too far. Cheesy one-liners, like the "Trix are for kids", really bugged me for some reason. I mean, really? I get the 'samurai talk', but who says stuff like that?

To make up for it, though, Kill Bill has a near-perfect pace. It never drags or becomes too short, it just flows smoothly, allowing it play out an interesting and visually-pleasing tale.

Kill Bill is over-the-top, with some dialogue being borderline campy. However, it's practically perfect in all other aspects. Great performances, fantastic characters, entertaining visuals, and a near-perfect pace wrap this first volume of Tarantino's two-part epic into a creative, bloody, and fun movie.

9/10 - Fantastic





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