Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kill Bill

I know that lately I've sifted away a bit from the "Classic Hollywood" aspect of my blog, but I just received Peyton Place in the mail yesterday which I plan on watching soon. Plus, Kill Bill was on Spike last night and it just reminded me how much I love them. And for those who haven't realized it yet, this entry is about both Vol.1 and Vol. 2.

The film stars Uma Thurman as The Bride (Also known as Black Mamba), a former assassin who used to work for her lover Bill (David Carradine). During her wedding rehearsal, Bill and the members of his Deadly Viper Assassination Squad show up and blast everyone away, after which Bill shoots the very pregnant Black Mamba in the head, sending her into a 4 year coma. When she wakes up, she sets about getting revenge.

Kill Bill is the perfect blend of style, smarts, and self-awareness. It knows what it is, and sometimes intentionally ventures into the over-the-top or corny, but it also features some fantastic dialogue that makes the scenes where people are just talking just as interesting as the scenes where the Bride is seeking bloody revenge. It's also the kind of film that tricks you, both in the time framing of its events (it's out of order) and in the emotional development of the film. The Bride starts out as a simply killing machine, a wronged woman hell-bent on avenging her lost child, but once you get into the slowly paced, more dialogue heavy Vol 2, she is actually developed as a character, giving us flashbacks into her past hardships as well as showing us the relationship she had with Bill. It leads to a final confrontation that is heartbreaking, as Bill (whose voice is only heard in Vol. 1) becomes someone we can empathize with, someone who we actually like.

Uma Thurman gives a brilliant performance as a character that requires her to be a badass, over-the-top, emotional, and realistic and she hits every single note perfectly. She makes us go on the emotional journey with her character, adding depth and nuance as the film plays out, which most people probably wouldn't expect from a film like this, so by the end of the film she has gone from a killing machine to a conflicted woman.

David Carradine also deserves special mention as Bill, adding warmth and humor to someone he himself describes as a "murdering bastard". He also adds regret for his actions against The Bride, knowing that their relationship will never be the same because of what he's done.

The cast of characters themselves are all interesting, from The Bride's former master Pei Mai who "hates Caucasians, despises Americans, and has nothing but contempt for women", to Gogo the teenager bodyguard of one of The Bride's intended targets who fights using a bladed yoyo, to Elle Drive, the eye-patch wearing rival of The Bride who is played to b*tchy perfection by Daryl Hannah.

Of course, the action scenes are brilliantly filmed and shot, from an epic battle against a personal army to a one-on-one showdown in a crappy trailer, it's all exciting and it's all fantastically made, oozing style and film homages from every single frame. The film is a blast and you get the feeling the Quentin Tarantino had a great time making this film from the energy he has instilled within it.

Kill Bill is easily one of my favorite films, entertaining from the performances, to the action, and to the dialogue, everything about the film is top notch. Some may find the shift in tone from Vol. 1 to Vol 2. a bit disappointing, since Vol 1. is a straight-up action film whereas Vol. 2 is much more dialogue heavy, but it's so well done that I don't mind at all. In fact, I have a hard time deciding which one I love more.

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