"Kill Bill" transcends influences and hacks limbs

by Eric Melin on October 10, 2003

in Print Reviews

Reaffirming his status as a grade-A talented filmmaker after a six-year hiatus, Quentin Tarantino scores big with “Kill Bill:Volume 1,” a fun, violent, trashy masterpiece. And it doesn’t even have an ending.

From the very opening, in a disturbing scene featuring a blood-spattered bride (Uma Thurman) who receives a gunshot to the head, Tarantino is fully in control of his movie. “Kill Bill” is alive with frenzied abandon and campy indulgence. During the entire hour and 50 minutes it was on the screen, I kept picturing the manic director laughing hysterically and having a ball as his grandest and sickest visions come to life before him.

“Kill Bill” is certainly not for everyone. It is a tribute to the Hong Kong kung-fu flicks produced by the Shaw Brothers studio in the ’70s and early ’80s, but it’s also a tribute to many other genre pics as well. Tarantino has always stolen his ideas from great sources, and seems to create something bigger and better from them. I haven’t seen any of these Shaw films, but it’s hard to imagine that anything remotely like “Kill Bill:Volume 1” could already exist.

The plot is thin. It’s a revenge flick. Thurman wakes from a coma four years after her attack, hell-bent on tracking down the assassins who slaughtered her wedding party and left her for dead. But it’s what Tarantino does with that plot that is so thrilling. He’s got more camera tricks than Brian DePalma. They are all used to stunning effect. He’s messing with timelines again. How can it be possible that he creates suspense when we’ve already seen what is chronologically the ending of the film at the beginning?

It’s because the man knows what he’s doing. This is confident filmmaking for people who love film. But as I said earlier, not all people.

If you don’t think hordes of hacked limbs and spurting blood could ever be funny, you may not want to see eighty percent of “Kill Bill.” I recently wrote that the non-stop onslaught of gore and blood in “Once Upon a Time in Mexico” was a bit much for me to swallow. I now know that the tone wasn’t always right. At times the ceaseless blood was just too joyless. QT, however, has nailed the tone, and his wicked sense of humor is one unflinching constant throughout “Kill Bill:Volume 1.”

Moving from black and white film to gorgeous color to Japanese anime to split screen to slo-mo with ease, Tarantino proves he is at once a giddy and thrilling filmmaker. For a man whose screenwriting and dialogue have always been his strongest points, it’s quite a revelation to see him succeed so marvelously with so little words.

It may not be for everyone, but “Kill Bill:Volume 1” is an A-plus B-movie like no other. February can’t come too soon.

Eric is the Editor-in-Chief of Scene-Stealers.com and writes the Screen Stealers column for The Pitch. He’s President of the KCFCC, and drummer for The Dead Girls and Ultimate Fakebook. He is also Air Guitar World Champion Mean Melin. Eric goes to 11. Follow him at:

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