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Kill Bill: Volume 1 | Review

2 Down, 3 to Go.

Tarantino puts the B film dreams into an A film production.

Heads, arms and swords aren’t the only things that get split in two as this supposed 3-hour epic was recently cut down the middle giving us a second part in four months time. Slicing and dicing its way into theatres is the longly awaited film from the hip, “it” director of the 90’s. Quentin Tarantino’s fourth is perhaps one of the best guilty pleasures of the year and definitely comes across as his most visually entertaining project to date, however some movie-goers might feel hostage to this recent 3-films-in-1 or 2-films-in-1 trend which generate more revenue, of course, people wouldn’t mind forking over the extra dough if the product turns out to be amazingly excellent.

Action fans need not to worry; they’ll be getting their money’s worth and more with some first-rate cinematography, a great soundtrack, fabulous locations, non-stop action sequences inside some decent old school choreography, but true Tarantino fans might feel neglected by the lack of the instant classic genius found in his other three films that need no introduction (I happened to really like Jackie Brown). Where Kill Bill Volume.1 lacks in content, it makes up in full physical contact and with an arsenal of usual Tarantino style, dialogue and branded humor. Body count reach huge numbers and blood splatters equate to the millions of liters of beer consumed during a Bears football game. For a former video-store clerk, it is pretty obvious what his film influences are with a mixed tribute between Asian action flicks and the little bit of the spaghetti western which he does a lot better at than his friend director Robert Rodriguez did with Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

In her yellow jumpsuit inspired by Bruce Lee’s Game of Death attire and with her shaolin sword by her side Black Mamba, or a.k.a The Bride is played by the stunning Uma Thurman (Gattaca) who makes Tarantino’s decision to postpone production due to Thurman’s pregnancy seem like the best casting decision since having Jodie Foster play the role of Clarice Starling. Thurman’s sophomore appearance in a QT film deserves the Oscar for best performance from an actress who kicks major butt. Not only do we read the word revenge on her face but she also has the kung fu action moves to go along with it. While we must wait for Daryl Hannah ( Casa de Los Babys ) and Michael Madsen’s (Die Another Day) character to be explored in the second part we get a really interesting back-story done with some cool Japanese anime on Lucy Liu’s (Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle) O-Ren Ishii character. This tale of revenge is served up in a series of chapters that explore the back-story and origin of a couple of characters and one sword, where as the forward progression of the film is a mega fighting sequence inspired by a personal checklist of people to kill off before killing bill. While the massacres and supporting cast of vixens with cool code names are exaggerated, it still doesn’t cover up the obvious holes in story and like the protagonist’s name which is blipped out we can hope for some changes in the second time around.

Besides the not-so-cliff-hanger puzzling question which is asked at this movie’s end, I guess we can count on the second half to be more developed in the story department and continue in the same sense of humor (the film’s “Our Feature Presentation” opening title bit was hilarious) and we can look for Kill Bill Volume.2 to show Tarantino make-over another ageing talent in David Carrrendine (Kung Fu). Kill Bill Volume. 1 is an enjoyable watch from beginning to end, except that it might leave you on less of an appetite than expected, basically you’ll look forward to the next part but won’t be panting to see it.

Rating 3.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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