Kill Bill: Vol.1
Lawrence Bender, Erica Steinberg (executive), E. Bennett Walsh (executive), Harvey Weinstein (executive), Bob Weinstein (executive) for A Band Apart, Super Cool ManChu/Miramax
directed by Quentin Tarantino
starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A.Fox, Julie Dreyfus, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sonny Chiba, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Michael Parks, Michael Bowen, Jun Kunimura, Kenji Ohba, Yuki Kazamatsuri, James Parks, Sakichi Sato, Jonathan Loughran, Yoshiyuki Morishita, Tetsuro Shimaguchi, Kazuki Kitamura, Yoji Tanaka, Issei Takahashi, Satoshi Yamanaka, Julie Manase, Akaji Maro, Goro Daimon, Sun Sugata, Zhan Zhang-Jin, Hu Xiaohui, Ambrosia Kelley, The 5, 6, 7, 8's (= Sachiko Fujii, Yoshiko Yamaguchi, Ronnie Yoshiko Fujiyama), Tuan Shu Lan
written by Quentin Tarantino, based on a character created by Quentin Tarantino & Uma Thurman, original music by the RZA, martial arts direction by Yuen Woo-Ping, make-up effects by K.N.B.EFX Group, visual effects by Centro Digital Pictures, animation sequence by Production I.G.
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A woman, known only as The Bride (Uma Thurman), enters the
suburban home of Vernita Green (Viveca A.Fox), beats the living crap out
of her and tries to stab her ... but for a normal housewife, Vernita shows
remarkable fighting skills. The two of them only stop when Vernita's
4-year-old daughter (Ambrosia Kelley) comes home from kindergarten and
agree on a cease-fire, mainly because none of them want the little girl to
witness the violence. A short time later though, Vernita tries to shoot
the Bride using a gun she has hidden in a cereal box, but the bride is
fast enough to duck the bullet and as a reflex place a throwing knife
right in Vernita's heart ... too bad though that the little girl was
watching the whole scene ...
What made the bride do it though ?
4 years ago, she was pregnant and getting married when Bill (David
Carradine) and his gang - Vernita, O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Elle Driver
(Daryl Hannah) and Budd (Michael Madsen) -, a gang the Bride once belonged
to as well, attack the service, shooting most of the guests, the groom and
even the reverend, and doing their best to kill the Bride as well.
However, even though she's badly injured and gets shot in the head, the
Bride somehow survives - even if she loses her baby - and once she wakes
up from her coma, she's out for revenge ...
First, the Bride travels to Japan, where O-Ren Ishii (whose origin is
told as an anime-style cartoon) has since become the all-powerful boss of
the underworld. To kill her in style, the Bride visits lgendary armorer
Hanzo Hattori (Sonny Chiba) to make her the best samurai sword there is.
Then the Bride attacks O-Ren Ishii in her nightclub, takes out pretty
much her entire gang - who for some reason don't use firearms - and even
her mad personal bodyguard in a schoolgirl uniform (Chbiaka Kuriyama),
then she and O-Ren Ishii face each other in a final showdown in the snow -
where the Bride is finally able to kill her.
Of all of O-Ren Ishii's personnel, the bride has only left her lawyer
(Julie Dreyfus) alive, to a) qestion her about the wehreabouts of Bill's
gang and b) to let Bill know she's back, and she's coming after him. What
the Bride doesn't know though is that Bill has her daughter she thinks she
has lost in his power ... but this is a story for another day, and is told
in Kill Bill Vol.2.
Truth to be told, Kill Bill: Vol.1 is not as witty and
intelligent as Quentin Tarantino's previous three feature films, basically
this film is a post-modern action film that pays loving hommage to the
Asian and especially Japanese action cinema, both contemporary and from
the 1960's and 70's. Every lover of Japanese genre cinema will of course notice
the (intended) references to the works of Kinji Fukasaku, Teruo Ishii,
Takashi Miike and Seijun Suzuki, to the Lady
Snowblood-films, to Sex
and Fury, to Zero
Woman: Red Handcuffs, and to many more similar films. But despite
being highly derivative, the film actually works, thanks to a careful
direction, a loving approach to its sources, a great retro-soundtrack that
includes vintage Japanese pop-music as well as tunes by Ennio Morricone,
Riz Ortolani and even James Last used to full effect, brilliant action choreography
(thanks to veteran choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping), and thanks to a certain,
non-insulting tongue-in-cheek attitude to the genre as such that keeps
the film from becoming ridiculous and becoming just another genre entry.
In all, Kill Bill: Vol.1 is probably no masterpiece and is not
the film Quentin Tarantino will best be remembered for in the years to
come - but it's totally enjoyable and great fun to watch nevertheless.