In Pulp Fiction, Uma Thurman’s character talks about this pilot she starred in, “Fox Force Five”, about a team of elite female spies, each with lethal special skills. Behind the scenes, Uma and director Quentin Tarantino came up with sort of a spin-off, the DiVAS, “Deadly Viper Assassination Squad”. Sort of an Angels team but sponsored by a down and dirty Charlie who’s called Bill, actually.
One of his fearless female killers is Uma’s The Bride, referred as such because when we first meet her she’s left the hit-man life and is about to get married, only Bill disapproves and orders a massacre. The Bride miraculously survives but sinks into a 4 year coma. When she finally wakes up, she’s pissed, Guns of the Navarone-pissed, Superfly T.N.T. pissed, and she embarks on what “the movie advertisements refer to as a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.”
Described by Tarantino as “30 years of Grindhouse cinema squeezed into a duck press”, “Kill Bill” is just that and then some. Imagine a Pam Grier flick with carnage on the level of the Sonny Chiba cult classic The Streetfighter, coat the whole thing in half-Spaghetti Western, half-Shaw brothers kung fu epic style, and you’ve only got a faint idea of how extreme “Kill Bill” gets. And that’s not even the most surprising thing, nor is it all the little quirks Tarantino adds to the mix. What really floored me was how layered and human this most exploitative of movies reveals itself to be.
You see, as foot-to-assular as Uma Thurman is in the movie, what truly drives her and the film, even more than rage or pain, is sadness. This is what makes this more than just a nifty homage or hipster exercise in excess: the Bride is in grief, and her Roaring Rampage of Revenge is motivated by bottomless loss and hurt. Not just because of the death of her almost-husband and friends, not because she was left for dead and lost four years of her life… She was pregnant when she was executed. She was gonna be a mother, and that’s why she left Bill and the DIVAS. She didn’t want her daughter to suffer because of her bloody lifestyle, yet she did anyway, before she was even born. That’s why the Bride’s pissed. That’s why she’s gonna kill Bill, and that’s why she’s gonna kill every motherfucker from here to right over there.
So ultimately, “Kill Bill” is a heartbreaking tale… But that doesn’t mean the actual unfolding of the Roaring Rampage of Revenge can’t be exciting and fun… And cool.
KOOL & the Gang LIST FIVE
1 – How amazingly colorful, stylish and downright CINEMATIC the film is. “Vol. 1” is divided into five chapters, each with its own look and tone. “2” is Blaxploitation cranked up to 11, “The Blood-splattered Wife” starts with Texas Rangers (with Michael Parks reprising his From Dusk Till Dawn role) then goes into pure Giallo, “The Origin of O-Ren Ishii” is just about the most awesome Japanimation you’ve ever seen, “The Man from Okinawa” (Sonny Chiba himself!) goes from fish-out-of-water comedy to what I can only describe as softcore sword-porn, and then there’s “The House of Blue Leaves”, a breathtaking set piece in a Tokyo restaurant/nightclub with a garden that’s like the most beautiful snowglobe.
2 – As visually stimulating as the movie is, you could quite literally get off just LISTENING to it. Tarantino and the RZA have assembled one wild soundtrack that borrows everything from Spaghetti western music to ‘70s funk and Japanese punk (ain’t the 5’6’7’8s the coolest thing ever?), and the sound effects have got to be the most brutal you’ve ever heard. Steel screams, bones crunch, and every insane move is matched with an oddball chord!
3 – The combination of Yuen Woo-Ping’s CHOREOGRAPHY and Sally Menke’s EDITING results into some of the most exhilarating action scenes you’ll ever see, with knives, samurai swords, a ball-and-chain and geysers of blood! This is a movie where every punch and kick hurts, and when Hanzo steel comes one’s way, limbs fly off!
4 – The ACTORS and their CHARACTERS, each more iconic than the next. These are mostly physical peformances, but when we do get a quieter moment everyone in the cast fills it with interesting little touches, humor, pathos… Vivica A. Fox is Pam Grierific but also a caring mom, Daryl Hannah is basically Patch in “Switchblade Sisters” but even more beautiful and evil, Lucy Liu is menacing yet graceful, and Uma is a Goddess, strong and funny and, again, heartbreaking.
5- Last but not least, the Man himself, Quentin TARANTINO. This is a different beast than his previous three films, with much more action and much less of his signature dialogue, but you can still feel him in every frame. It’s the cereals, the Pussy Wagon, the yellow and black motorcycle suit Bruce Lee wore in “Game of Death”, the Japanese goons in Kato masks, the killer schoolgirl… This is QT unleashed: fear it, embrace it.
Now about this whole Volume 1 & 2 nonsense… I gotta say it’s bullshit. Sure, the 90 minute “Vol. 1” is a whole lot of movie, more than what your average 5 or 6 flicks deliver, but I could and would have gone for 90 more right there. And isn’t it odd to have a film called “Kill Bill” where you never really see Bill, let alone his being killed? But I’m just whining with my mouth full: I will go see this first helping a bunch more times, and I’ll be first in line for “Vol. 2”.
I can tell you with no ego, this is
my finest sword. If on your
journey, you should encounter God,
God will be cut.