When the animated “South Park” film was released in 1999, parents and congressmen protested the amount of vulgarities it contained (399; a current Guinness World Record holder). The problem with holding a superficial judgement against it however, was the themes contained within the film, one of which was that parents (not government) should be responsible for their children’s viewing habits. With the 2003 theatrical release of “Kill Bill: Volume 1” controversy began anew, this time due to excessive violence.
“Kill Bill,” like “South Park,” is not meant for children. In fact, it contains so many cultural references to other genre films, that the older and more knowledgeable of 1970s cinema you are, the more likely you’ll enjoy it. Uma Thurman gives the performance of her career as a nameless woman who survived a massacre at her wedding and, as the film opens, plans to take revenge on the people who attempted her assassination. That she’ll succeed is never in doubt; we’re simply along to witness the carnage and wonder how creative it will be. The answer: “Kill Bill” isn’t just creative, it’s artistic in every sense of the word.
Director Quentin Tarantino (“Pulp Fiction”) successfully uses every weapon in his usual arsenal, and a few that aren’t. One standout scene depicting the horrific childhood of a major character, uses anime (Japanese animation) to great effect; it simply would have been too brutal and traumatic to use child actors to tell this tale.
“Kill Bill: Volume 1” is a humorous, macabre, acrobatic dance for those who can stomach it.
Pros: Successfully utilizes several different styles of film making that merge into one cohesive whole. Terrifically designed, over-the-top effects.
Cons: Some of QT’s dialogue is a bit too melodramatic, although I’m certain this was intentional.
Review Rating: 4 out of 5 machetes
“Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003):
111 Minutes; USA
Rated R for gore, violence, language and sexual content.
Uma Thurman (The Bride)
Lucy Liu (O-Ren Ishii)
Vivica A. Fox (Vernita Green)
Daryl Hannah (Elle Driver)
David Carradine (Bill)
Michael Madsen (Budd)
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Written by: Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman
Viewing Format: Theatrical Release
(Portions of this review originally appeared in my “Video View” newspaper column of 4/14/’04)