Kill Bill: Volume one
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Written by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman
Bloody, retro, exploitative, violence, ridiculous. All the things you expect from a QT blockbuster double feature which was surrounded by hype when it came out. There are a number of huge stars attached to these films and Tarantino uses all his video store know how, using the tropes from Kung Fu movies, Westerns, revenge actioners and mashed them all up together to bring us the story of one woman tracking down the assassins who ruined her wedding rehearsal.
There’s a lot of mash up of genres not just in the script but also in the filming style. We have the Grindhouse style opening credits, the anime sequence for O-Ren’s origin story (far too bloody and violent to actually film with a child) and I think changes of filter. That, changes of language used and the chopped up mix and match time line makes it quite compelling watching – you don’t settle in at any point, your attention is continually brought back to the movie to see what it’s doing now. It’s not a movie you can look away from for any length of time and expect to keep up with.
The fight sequences also manage to be different each time, which is refreshing when I’m used to seeing big blockbusters with endless cuts between stuff that looks the same. The fight between O-Ren and The Bride is particularly gorgeous, set in the Japanese garden with snow falling, Lucy Liu in her white silk kimono and Uma Thurman in her bloodied yellow tracksuit. It’s iconic for this movie and for QT’s work in general.
I do wish that there wasn’t so much rape and implied rape in this film though. It’s such lazy story telling. Oh there’s a woman character, what’s the worst thing that could happen to her? There are other things in this world than rape, and there’s other ways to motivate a character. Why bring it back to that? In the case of the hospital orderly it’s possible that it’s so that you feel justified when the newly awoken Bride kills two men… but I do have to wonder what the real motivation for including it is. It’s like, I adore the Decemberists’ music but I really don’t think it needs to keep being about rape, you know? There are other storylines, other ways to show men being awful to women.
Does it make me love the people? You’re definitely rooting for the Bride. You’re given a lot of reasons why it’s justified, her hunting down and killing these people – but there’s almost no actual characterisation. She’s not a person so much as she’s a focused, quipping revenge seeking machine in cool ass clothing. In terms of human connection there isn’t much here, because it’s just not the point of this movie.
In the first post credits sequence The Bride (who is named although it’s bleeped out, and we know her name from the second movie) talks to Vernita Green and her daughter Nicky. In fact it feels like it would be very hard for this movie to fail the Bechdel test told as it is through The Bride’s eyes.
The Bride: You can relax for now. I’m not going to murder you in front of your child, okay?
Copperhead: That’s being more rational than Bill led me to believe you were capable of.
The Bride: It’s mercy, compassion, and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality.
The Bride: It was not my intention to do this in front of you. For that I’m sorry. But you can take my word for it, your mother had it comin’. When you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I’ll be waiting.
The Bride: [spanking a young member of the Crazy 88s with her sword] This is what you get for fucking around with Yakuzas!
[with a last spank, lets him go]
The Bride: Go home to your mother!
State of Mind: This movie is totally ridiculous to be honest. But I do enjoy it. Say what you will about QT he knows how to film a cool movie. A movie so cool it oozes style. That’s what he was aiming to do with this series and that’s what he achieved. Anna enjoyed it enough to say yes to watching the second one right away, so wins all round.