Combining elements of grind house gore, 70’s blaxploitation, kung-fu films and elements of his own previous work help make up Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film “Kill Bill: Volume 1.”
Tarantino was a film buff long before he became an acclaimed writer and director. This interest has shown in all of his work but none so much as in “Kill Bill.” From the opening frame that proudly announces the film was shot in “Shaw scope,” a trademark of the kung-fu film directors the Shaw Brothers to the films heavy influence from Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Westerns, this film was influenced by other films and styles. As with Tarantino’s previous film “Jackie Brown,” blaxploitation films from the seventies also influenced “Kill Bill.”
The film centers on Uma Thurman’s character “The Bride” seeking revenge on the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS) and their leader, Bill, after Bill and the DiVAS tried to kill her during her wedding.
The opening shot of the film, done in black and white, shows The Bride and then a split second later, the audience hears a loud gunshot and sees a smattering of blood cover the ground behind her. This opening sequence sets up one of, if not the bloodiest, mainstream American films ever. The amount of gore in the live action pales in comparison to what is shown in an anime segment of the film.
One must expect a bloody film to be action packed and Tarantino does not disappoint when it comes to the fight scenes. With the help of Woo-ping Yuen, an acclaimed director and fight choreographer, the sword fights in “Kill Bill” help to tell the story of The Bride’s revenge. During the 20 minute “Battle at Blue Leaves,” The Bride successfully defeats her rival’s entire gang, The Crazy 88’s, her loyal assistant, Gogo Yubari, and finally kills former member of the DiVAS, Oren Ishii.
The film’s soundtrack adds another dimension to this film. The Wu Tang Clan’s “The RZA” composed an eclectic blend of original music for the film. Other music was taken from artists ranging from Tomoyasu Hotei, a Japanese composer, to Bernard Hermann’s theme from the film “Twisted Nerve.” Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang- My Baby Shot Me Down” accompanies the opening scene of The Bride being shot perfectly.
Six years passed between films from Tarantino the acclaimed writer/director of “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs.” An early draft of the 220-page script could be found online some time ago for those eager to see what Tarantino could possibly be up to with this film. The film was not originally meant to be split in to two volumes, but it would have reportedly been around three-and-a-half hours as one film. The last shot of the film is a major cliffhanger, which will just have fans craving to see Volume 2, which opens on Feb. 20.
Every aspect of “Kill Bill: Volume 1” works to make it the best film of the year so far and the best action film since the first “Matrix” film. The movie’s violence and gore are deservedly given an R rating and was probably one more gallon of fake blood away from an NC-17 rating. Many young children (except those at a certain Sunday afternoon screening) will probably not want to see this and should probably not see this.
“Kill Bill: Volume 1” works on so many levels and could be seen different ways by every single person that has seen the film. Whether you have an extensive knowledge of kung-fu and grind house gore films, have just seen Tarantino’s previous work or are just looking for a good film to see “Kill Bill: Volume 1” is highly recommended.