Uma Thurman (Gattaca) plays the Bride, whose bloody and battered face we see at the beginning of the movie. She is pregnant, but is shot in the head and left for dead. She actually is comatose, and stays that way for four years, before waking up one night from a mosquito buzzing in her ear. The Bride’s name is inconsequential, as any mention of her name draws a loud beeping sound during the movie, and her rehabilitation is also fairly hard to believe also, as she “focuses” in order to use her legs again. Then …gain, the main attribute driving the story is revenge.
The Bride was an assassin before her coma, part of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS for short) headed by Bill, who we find out later is David Carradine (from Kung-Fu, a more appropriate (and maybe better?) choice than the initial one of Warren Beatty, considering Tarantino’s penchant for casting 70s acting icons. The Bride wants to kill Bill, along with everyone in with the Squad, Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox, Juwanna Man), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah, Splash), O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu, Charlie’s Angels) and Budd (Michael Madsen, Reservoir Dogs). She will do anything to accomplish her goals, even wiping out a group of fighters named the Crazy 88.
Since the story is basically laid out for you, it gives plenty of room for Tarantino to employ style and artistry to keep you entertained. So we see various devices used to advance the film. The opening tight shot of Thurman is in black and white. The Bride’s name is intentionally withheld until Volume 2. There is a fairly gory sequence in anime, and the fight with the Crazy 88 cuts to black and white. Speculation by some is that this was done to secure the hard R rating from the MPAA and avoid a NC-17, and even if this is true, the switchover is still a pretty clever trick. You know that Kill Bill is a violent film, as Pulp Fiction was, but like in Pulp, a portion of Kill Bill’s violence is not explicit. Sure, the Bride walks in, confronts the 88, then the switchover and we see many of them die, then we come back to Uma, her Bruce Lee yellow jumpsuit essentially covered in blood. Is that the “never-was” film school student in me raving about an editorial trick? Maybe so, but I still liked it. There is a Japanese Edition that I have that has the fight in full color, along with some lengthened scenes that are bound to make it in the special edition that should be coming out later this year.
As the Bride, Thurman is rough, and yet shows some tenderness when dealing with the loss of her unborn child. There was a tenderness and loss element that Thurman handled very well. The action scenes were solid and entertaining, and I particularly enjoyed the fight with Fox, not only for the action, but because dramatically the two were virtually the same character. The fight also showed a good deal of the mutual respect each combatant had for another. Not to make the equation, but Tarantino seems to be following a career path closely resembling Kubrick. Each has made at least 1 memorable film that serves as a cinematic landmark, and both seem to take years to complete a film. As was the case with Kubrick, Quentin Tarantino films are worth the wait.
The Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks do sounds very good, with DTS getting the nod. With Tarantino movies, you usually get good sound to accompany his unique musical tastes, and they are well rounded here, giving the surround speakers a lot of activity – Thurman’s frantic breathing in the opening scenes sounding as clear in the rears as the fronts.
The 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen does leave a little to be desired. Granted, some of the gritty images that help bring up nostalgic cinema moments (such as the opening titles) show up OK, but the image for the rest of the moment just isn’t as sharp as I’ve seen in previous Miramax transfers. Some more work should have been put into this one.
Since this is a stopgap release, the Making of featurette looks a lot like your run-of-the-mill EPK, with 20 minutes of interviews from the cast (Liu, Fox, Hannah and Thurman, along with Tarantino), and Tarantino’s thoughts on shooting the film in China, and some extra time spent on the music of the film, along with his thoughts of casting Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo. I think the inclusion of this was more of a novelty than anything else, but who am I to guess. The Japanese group playing in the House of Blue Leaves has 2 music videos here also, perfect for those who were fans of the music. Trailers for each of Tarantino’s movies rounds out the extras, including a teaser for Volume 2.
Fans of Tarantino have probably picked this up already, even knowing that work on a Special Edition is probably in the pipeline. That’s speculation on my part, but this film is definitely worthy of renting, and could find a huge cult audience further down the road if it hasn’t already.
Special Features List
- “The Making of Kill Bill, Volume 1”
- Bonus musical performances by The 5,6,7,8s
- Quentin Tarantino trailers including Kill Bill, Volume 2