Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)
The 4th film by Quentin Tarantino was released in two volumes and of all the films that this auteur has made in his filmmaking career, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 remains his most precise blend of riveting story, fascinating characters, pop culture references, wonderful homages & gripping action, all of which is seamlessly brought together by just the ideal incorporation of existing music to deliver an immensely enjoyable, wildly entertaining & thoroughly fulfilling cinematic experience.
Based on the character of “The Bride” created by Q & U (Quentin & Uma), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 follows a former member of The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who, while pregnant & about to marry, is brutally assaulted by her allies and falls into a comatose state. Waking up 4 years later & after discovering that the baby in her womb is gone, this deadly assassin goes on a killing rampage to unleash vengeance upon those who destroyed her life & killed her child.
Written & directed by Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill is his homage to numerous film genres, namely spaghetti westerns, kung fu flicks, Chinese wuxia, Japanese samurai cinema & even anime, and Vol. 1is an absolute revenge bloodbath. The entire picture is expertly narrated from start to finish, makes excellent use of all his trademarks, and is jam-packed with compelling characters, each gifted with a distinct quality. Plus, from the very beginning to the very end, this feature is one bloody affair that comes loaded with both style & substance.
Vol. 1 is covered in five chapters, each strong enough to stand on its own, and is engaging from the first frame to the last. A particular highlight is the anime sequence which provides the backstory of a prominent character and just about everything in it is perfectly executed. The set pieces are in accordance with the location where its plot is unfolding, even camera is exquisitely employed and makes splendid use of long takes, silhouette shots, greyscale photography, different angles & wide ranging colour tones.
The action is highly stylised, brilliantly choreographed & goes totally bonkers in the blood-splattered sequence before the final showdown and is incredibly fun & amusing to look at. Editing splits the plot into five segments which is then narrated in non-chronological order yet the transition from one chapter to another is absolutely smooth. And finally there is the use of existing music to drive its story as well as viewers’ emotions and in my opinion, it’s the best set of tracks Tarantino has put together for it works flawlessly.
Coming to the performances, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 features a terrific cast in Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Julie Dreyfus, Sonny Chiba, Chiaki Kuriyama, Vivica A. Fox & others, in addition to brief appearances from characters that are dealt with in Vol. 2. Leading from the front is Thurman as the Bride and it still remains her career-defining work for she’s electrifying, charismatic & flamboyant in the given role. Liu plays O-Ren Ishii, the first on Bride’s revenge list and chips in with a fantastic performance while Kuriyama easily steals every moment she’s in.
On an overall scale, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is the most harmonious blend of Tarantino’s filmmaking trademarks and is a cinema that works on all levels. Although it only covers the first half of the Bride’s blood-soaked revenge saga, it effectively paves the groundwork for the next volume in line, and succeeds as a standalone movie too. There isn’t really much to complain about it for even its over-the-top action & exaggerated blood-filled violence end up working in its favour and the film as a whole is a pure exemplification of a film lover’s own enthusiasm, passion & love for the cinematic medium. One hundred percent recommended.