Martial Arts
Kill Bill Vol. 1
Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Star: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica Fox, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine, Michael Madsen
Cert / Year: 18 - R / 2003
Format: DVD R2

A pregnant bride and her whole wedding party are brutally murdered. Or so Bill the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad thinks. The bride an ex member of the squad survives the attack and after four years in a coma she wakes up vowing revenge. Making a list she sets out to kill the five who attacked her. First on the list is Japanese mob boss O-Ren Ishii.

I know I'm going to come in for a vast amount of criticism for this review but the simple fact is I didn't enjoy this film much at all. Maybe I'm not the right person to write the review, because I just can't see what all the fuss is about. Quentin Tarantino is a talented plagiarist and what he calls a homage to seventies Hong Kong cinema comes across as a poor copy of it.

I loved Tarantino's first two films Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction they took some great ideas from other films and combined them into slickly polished story. Jackie Brown left me cold it achieved what is set out to and became an instantly forgettable slice of blaxplotation (a category not noted for it's abundance of top movies). In Kill Bill Vol. 1 he has taken his plagiarism to new levels, robbing wholesale from the Hong Kong cinema back catalogue. Maybe it's because I seen the same films he has copied, but to me this film appears to be little more than a second rate clone.

People have raved about the fast pace and brilliant fights. Well have these people even seen any Asian cinema because I can tell you the fights are less impressive and certainly more ponderous that any of the best fights seen there. No amount of slick editing and flashy camera effects can hide the fact that Uma Thurmanís moves just don't flow. Yes she has been well trained, but compared to Jet Li, Chow Yun Fat or Michelle Yeoh her moves are robotic. Where these martial artists can film a whole fight in one go here cuts have to be used to hide the pauses between moves. Things are not aided by lazy fight direction where people tend to fall down before getting hit, and more interest is given to fountains of blood than in giving us a cool shot of that all essential deathblow. Add it this ridiculous pauses and endless posturing and the fights are bloody yet mediocre. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon blows any fight here out of the water completely, and that's not even the best example of the art in any respect.

There are things to like in this film. The cinematography is brilliant, although I have no idea why it turns monochrome at one point. Tarantino uses loads of camera effects to liven up the proceedings, and the overhead tracking shots are particularly memorable. Overall it gives the film a fantastic amount of polish and style, even if his fight direction is somewhat lacking. The highlight of the film though has to be the Manga style cartoon section in the middle. In short this section is superbly done and is much better than the live action segment.

Uma Thurman has never struck me as a terribly effective actress and this film has done absolutely nothing to change my mind. She is adequate and that's it (although Tarantino is obsessed with her, and it seems particularly with her huge ugly feet). Luckily star turns from the rest of the cast more than make up for it, with Daryl Hannah giving a hilariously brilliant turn (more of her in Vol 2).

Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a stylishly mediocre rip off of Hong Kong cinema. For those who haven't seen much of this type of film it will probably seem totally impressive, and for those who have it may be less so. The fact that it is only half a story isn't a major problem as the action is self contained enough for it to stand on it's own. It's just I sadly fear that the sequel will be more of the same. As I stated t the top of the review many people will disagree with this review and maybe I have missed something, but I really can't see what the fuss is about. At the end of the day this is a run of the mill Hong Kong movie wannabe, all be it one dressed in slick clothes.

There is one last comment I have to make and it is whoever designed the subtitles is an absolute imbecile. They are burnt onto the picture (not beneath), yellow, tiny, and on the screen for milliseconds. In short for the most part unreadable on a television set (even large widescreen set I own). Be warned there is a lot of them so be prepared to pause the film often.


Here comes the bride.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Picture 1.85:1 Anamorphic Good, but then there is those subtitles.
Audio Dolby Digital 5.1 Rather unexptional until the swords start to sing.
Features Making of featurette
Two music videos for a darn awful band that appear in the film.
TRailers for volume one and two
Verdict The picture and sound are fine but the lack of extras leads to the fact that a collectors edition will probably become avaialble at some point.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home