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It seems that QT has taken the time since "Jackie Brown" to really hone his craft. While his earlier films were fantastic, they were very raw at times. "Kill Bill" looks and feels very polished.
Review by Matthew Anderson
Live Action Two Part American Movie
Company: MIRMAX/A BAND APART
Running Time: 2 hours 30 MIN
Rating: R (Suspense, violence, gore, language)
A mysterious woman has arrived in town to visit an old friend. The woman is "The Bride", the old friend is Vernita Green aka Copperhead. Both are former members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, an elite guild of killers that worked for an enigmatic gangster named Bill.
The Bride's visit is not a pleasant one. She has arrived at Copperhead's suburban home on a quest to kill every single Black Viper member. Nothing, not words, not weapons, not even Vernita's daughter will stop her from enacting her terrible revenge.
It seems that four years ago, "The Bride" was Black Mamba, a Black Viper Assassination Squad member. On the day a very pregnant Black Mamba was supposed to get married, the entire wedding party is massacred by her former team mates. After softening her up, Bill delivers the finial blow.
Instead of killing her, all they did was put her in a coma. Now, she is awake, and a very pissed off. "The Bride" has a list of people she needs to kill. O-ren Ishii: queen of the Yakuza, Vernita Green, housewife, down on his luck bouncer Bud, and Bill's ex-lover Elle Driver.
In spite of her return, Bill is not worried. For you see, he has a secret. This secret is so powerful, it is the only thing that can stop "The Bride's" mission to Kill Bill.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: For the most part, the video on both volumes is crisp and clean. The transfer is excellent, and looks a hell of a lot better than in the theaters. On the Samsung, I noticed some wrinkling during some scenes, but only because I was looking for it. With our computer, it looked fantastic.
AUDIO: The English 5.1 and French 5.1 really kicks Deadly Viper butt. The sound hits you from all across the soundstage. Just as it quiets down, it shoots up, and kicks you in the head.
If the Dolby 5.1 is that good, I wish I had an DTS receiver.
EDITS: No edits. Everything is exactly as it was in the theater.
EXTRAS: Looks like the rumors about skimpy extras were true. On volume 1, all we get is a moderate length "Making of" feature and "music videos" featuring The 5,6,7,8's. Disc two has another half-assed "Making of", a deleted scene (that's right, A scene), and a "Who Cares" video of the premiere at Chingon (what ever the hell that is.). Sorry, but trailers are not extras, even if they include the trailer for when "Kill Bill" was one movie.
STORY: As this movie is an homage to the revenge flicks of the 1970's, Quentin Tarantino's script is pretty straightforward. We have our heroin, beaten, tortured, and left for dead. Miraculously, she recovers, with the images of those who "killed" her burned in her mind. Like "The Crow" she goes from minion to minion, killing them on her way to the top dog. What sets Kill Bill above other films in the revenge genre is that we get more into the heads of the characters, and learn their motivations.
ACTING: The acting is sublime. With a cast this large, it would take too long to compliment everyone. For this review, I am sticking to the ones that stood out the most.
The acting is excellent, with Uma Thurman carrying most of the movie. She has a very broad range, being able to go from quick and cunning to a total emotional wreck in a matter of seconds. She also has great comedic timing, and she kicks ass better than most "action" stars.
Lucy Liu gives a rather restrained performance, compared to her work in films like Payback and Charlie's Angels. It must have been hard to keep it calm and cool, but she did it. She is also one woman who you don't want to mess with.
Daryl Hannah is sexy and nasty as Elle Driver. From her creepy entrance in Part 1 to her close quarters combat scene in Part II, she reminds us why "Priss" in Blade Runner was such a bad ass.
Newcomer Perla Haney-Jardine as B.B. is absolutely adorable. She is a cute, bubbly little girl. I was totally convinced that she loved Mama and her bad Daddy very much. No wonder The Bride broke into tears when she saw her child for the first time. I would!
In the first movie, David Carridine's Bill is like an evil Cain from "Kung Fu". Using his quiet charm and charisma, he gives you chills with just his voice. In part II, he is a "compassionate" killer. Even though he has done horrible things, he still is a good father, and loving brother. Not quite what you would expect from a man who would shoot a pregnant woman. He truly is one of the most under rated actors of our time.
Chiaki Kuriyama is perfect as Go Go Yubari. With just her eyes, she communicates that she is a total bad ass she is. You quickly discover that she won't take any crap from anyone.
FAN SERVICE: This movie is a fan service paradise. References to Bruce Lee, Samurai Eiga, Yakuza movies, spaghetti westerns, and classic television are just the tip of the ice berg. You can see Tarentino's admiration for Asian directors like Sezuki Seijun, Hiroyuki Nakano, and the Shaw Brothers by the way he uses their unique visual styles. There are references to other films he has worked on , including "Dusk to Dawn". You even get a Red Apples Cigarettes reference (a brand that appears in every Tarantino movie.)
When Kill Bill showed up on the entertainment radar, it garnered interest not only from the film community, but anime/Asian cinema enthusiasts as well. The reason; Quentin Tarantino freely admitted that this movie drew it's influence from various forms of Asian cinema. Shaw Brothers Chop Socky flicks, Samurai Egia, Yakuza movies, and even anime.
I went to see Kill Bill in the theaters the day it premiered. With in just the first 10 minutes, I was totally in awe. When I left the theater, I waited not only for part 2, but for the day the pair of movies would be released on DVD so I could enjoy this masterpiece as many times as I want.
I totally love both films. Everything about them, from the way it's shot, to the way the action flows is pure Quentin Tarantino. Like all of his films, he gives us characters that are larger than life, more human than most "reel" people. He then places them in situations that would drive normal people insane, all the while keeping true to themselves. It's a tough feat, but he manages to do it.
It seems that QT has taken the time since "Jackie Brown" to really hone his craft. While his earlier films were fantastic, they were very raw at times. "Kill Bill" looks and feels very polished. Sure, the grittiness is there, but it's tempered with beautiful settings, powerful scenes, and even stronger visuals. Even the music has a more refined presence. If you compare this movie with say "Pulp Fiction", you can see a marked change in his style. Although I'm sure the multi-million dollar financing he got for this movie helped.
Like Tarantino did with Pulp Fiction, continuity goes out the window. This was actually a good idea. If the move was shown in chronological order, the finial act would have been anti-climatic. Jumping around the story also gave Tarentino a great place to end volume 1.
For the second volume, we see "The Bride" as she continues on her "roaring rampage of revenge". Next on her list is Budd aka Sidewinder. No longer an ultra cool killer, he is now a fat, broke, looser who works as bouncer in a titty bar. It seems that he is going to be as easy kill, just like O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green.
However, the old adage applies; just because he is down, doesn't mean he is out. Add The Bride's other target, Elle Driver, to the mix, and things get complicated.
The last quarter of the movie totally shifts gears. Gone is the bloody trail of revenge, multiple murders, betrayal, and death. Like some strange family drama, we have Bill and The Bride, trying to reconcile their past, and figure out their future. Naturally, it has a Tarantino twist, involving dart guns, truth serum, and samurai swords. We see that if things had gone differently, The Bride and Bill could have made a nice couple, and perhaps one of the coolest mother and fathers ever to walk the Earth.
This and another scene really help put the relationship between Bill and The Bride into context. We already know that Bill's betrayal was a devastating blow to "Black Mamba". Now, we get to understand why.
Also in this volume, we get to see what happened right before the "Massacre at Two Pines". Just as The Bride is about to get married, a visit from her "daddy" Bill makes things a little tense. Like a master showman, QT plays on the fact you know what is going to happen to drive you nuts. He makes you sit on the edge of your seat, gripping the arm rests in anticipation for the bloody scene to follow.
Kill Bill volume 2 is very different in tone to volume 1. The first movie was a send-up of Hong Kong action films and Yakuza Eiga. With this volume, Q draws his inspiration from Spaghetti Westerns and "Shao Lin" cinema. If you go to watch Kill Bill Vol. 2 expecting more "hardcore" action, you will be disappointed. Don't worry, there are some cool fights, just not as awesome or bloody as the battle in Tokyo.
Tarantino made a wise choice in telling this story in two movies. Not only does it let him play loose with the continuity, it helps to keep the audience from getting disappointed. None of the other fights in this film can compare with the one against O-Ren Ishii and the Crazy 88's. If this had been a three hour movie, the final fight with Bill would have been apt, but horribly anti-climatic.
Everyone will have characters they enjoy. Managing Editor Ann was impressed with Vivcia Fox's ass kicking abilities. Operations Chief Mike loved Uma's "Crow" like determination to get her man, or woman. For me, it was Go Go Yubari. I am totally in love with Chiaki Kuriyama. Her "spooky" look, deep voice, and fighting ability is just so damn attractive. Naturally, the school girl outfit helps out as well! Every time she is on screen, I can't help but watch.
One of the best parts (and one that will appeal to Kung Fu fans) is the introduction of ultra bad ass, Pai Mei. With a combination of wisdom, attitude, and physical punishment, he teaches our ingénue killer how to actually be a killer. It's funny, scary, and nerve wracking all at the same time. Why? Because if you give him a defiant eye, or sass mouth, he will rip out the offending body part. If you don't believe me, look at Elle Driver.
For the first time ever, I enjoyed watching a movie with Darryl Hannah. She actually played a character, not Darryl Hannah. Her Elle Driver is one hard core bitch. She can kick ass, every word that comes from her mouth is full of venom, and she really plays up the characters interesting quirks. This is the sexiest she has ever been, and she can kick ass just as good as Uma.
The action is awesome. Yuen Wo Ping has shown the world that he is the master. His fight sequences are beautiful, full of energy, excitement, and even some comedy. The fight between Elle and The Bride is not only cool, but shows the inherent problems of using swords in a mobile home. He proves that you don't need computer enhanced special effects to put on a good show.
When I first saw the animation segment in the theater, it was not what I expected. It seemed to sacrifice detail for a more visceral and rougher tone. Don't get me wrong, the style was perfect for the story being told, but I was expecting something along the lines of "Ghost in the Shell".
On the smaller screen, it looks different. Perhaps being smaller hides the rough look of the animation. I could also be the quality of the transfer, as the theater I went too wasn't very modern. I think its a combination of the DVD format shown on the television helps clean up the rough edges.
This movie is a fan service paradise. References to Bruce Lee, Samurai Eiga, Yakuza movies, spaghetti westerns, and classic television are just the tip of the ice berg. You also have references to the Zombi films of Lucio Fulchi, 50's adventure movies, and naturally, "Kung Fu" to keep you guessing.
The extras are a double edged sword. While the lack of substantial extras is disappointing, what they do have are at least entertaining. The "making of" really helps me to understand exactly how QT's mind works. It's all over the place.
The other extra is the "music video" of Japanese surf band The 5,6,7,8's. While not exactly the best example of Japanese Pop Music, they are certainly entertaining, and their music is damn catchy.
Kill Bill is everything we have come to expect from Quentin Tarantino. Cool visuals, great acting, interesting characters, and a perfect fusion of different film styles. While the presentation is not perfect, I had to buy it! I guess I will be one of those suckers that buy both volumes, and then shell out the extra money for the "collectors edition". Oh well. It's worth it!
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