Saturday, October 25, 2003

Just watched Kill Bill, Vol. 1. It's like the best movie ever. Okay, fine, I exaggerate. But it seriously is one of the best movies I've ever watched... and definitely one of the bloodiest too! Though I usually get turned off by gratuitous blood and violence, this was done in inimitable Tarantino style, and hence, I didn't - couldn't - object.

Basically, as I explained to my friend just before the movie started, Kill Bill is about the nameless bride (played by Uma Thurman) who's an assassin who wants to leave her group, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Because of this, she is attacked by her ex-group members and left for dead. She survives, just barely, remaining in a coma for four years, before awakening and in search of revenge.

In Volume 1, she goes after two of her ex-group members, O-Ren Ishii (aka Cottonmouth, played by Lucy Liu), a half-Japanese, half-Chinese assassin, now the head of the Japanese Yakuza, and Vernita Green (aka Copperhead, played by Vivica Fox), an African-American knife specialist who has now chosen to live a decent life, having married and now the mother of a four-year old daughter. The remaining three members, I guess we'll see in Volume 2, only out in February.

This movie is similar in style to Pulp Fiction in that it starts in the middle, goes to the end and then returns to the beginning. Perfect for someone like me, as I tend to read Book 2 of a trilogy, then read the last book, before returning to Book 1. Anyway, there're other ingenious parts to this movie, like the use of anime in one of the flashback scenes, which was, in my opinion, brilliant, given that this movie was obviously heavily influenced by Japanese samurai movies. There're fight scenes in black & white, as well as in silhouette, all of which might have come off as showy in other movies, but not this one.

The dialogue's not too bad either, although there're some parts which I just couldn't help laughing at. Heck, I was laughing at like 80% of all of the fight scenes (which I'm sure was Tarantino's intent). The fighting is stylish as well; how could it not be with Yuen Wo-Ping as a technical director? And the soundtrack? The choice of music was both hilarious and appropriate. They played really dramatic music whenever Thurman came face-to-face with her intended victims, and rather '70s clubby rock bits during the bloodiest fight scene. It kind of felt as if I was in the most violent club ever, but hey, it was fun.

SPOILERS! Some minor objections though: I think Sophie would have died from loss of blood long before she could have been sent to a hospital. I mean, her arm was chopped off and blood was spurting everywhere! And c'mon! Four years and she couldn't have changed her ringtone? She's half-Japanese for goodness' sake. For that reason alone, her ringtone should have changed like a billion times over by then! And why on earth were Liu's and Thurman's characters speaking in Japanese (badly-accented at that) during the fight scene when they both preferred to speak English at other times?

Sonny Chiba's appearance in the movie was cool. I haven't seen any of his movies, but I think it's awesome how Tarantino chose to pay homage to him by having him appear in Kill Bill. The scene in the sushi house was very funny, although I'm not sure if any of that was typical Japanese behaviour. And while we're on that note, I like how Sophie translated O-Ren Ishii's speech in English to the Yakuza heads. Apparently the F-word is the same in both languages. Heh.

The confrontation with the Crazy '88s reminded me immensely of the Matrix Reloaded confrontation scene where Neo is faced with multitudes of Agent Smiths to fight off. And these guys were all in black too! Go-Go Yubari was quite funny too, and I like her spunk and craziness.

The Copperhead confrontation scene was kind of cute too, with a fight to the death interrupted by the arrival of Vernita's daughter. I like how both females hid their weapons and spoke to the child in friendly terms, trying to get the kid upstairs so that they could resume their unfinished business. And when Vernita, after managing to persuade Nickie to go upstairs, casually turns to Thurman and says, "Want some coffee?" It's just so freakin' funny. I have to admit, the end of the scene, when Nickie walks in to see Thurman kill her mother does leave a lot to be desired.

While Kill Bill doesn't do anything for the cinematic genre - it doesn't offer anything dramatic or new, like Pulp Fiction did, it's still one heck of a good movie. It's incredibly violent, yes, but not in a tasteless way, and it's definitely one of the best movies I've watched this year.

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