I had a blast watching Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Damn Straight. And how could it be otherwise? With a top-notch cast made up of heavy hitters like Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen and such, as well as juxtaposing English and Japanese (for which I’m pretty much a pushover), this was in the cards to sweep me smack-dab off my feet.
In a word, this is,for all intents and purposes, a classic retribution tale – as a matter of fact, its very character is heralded right out of the starting gate by means of a well-known adage: “Revenge is a dish best served cold”.
Uma Thurman is the unequivocal central character (and likewise the narrator), playing Beatrix Kiddo, alias Black Mamba. She’s nevertheless in that regard called simply and suggestively The Bride for the most part (as the cops call her, not being able to establish her true identity upon finding her in the El Paso chapel), and each time her name is pronounced, we are kept from hearing it by a censor beep sound of sorts. Her payback odyssey is prefigured by a black-and-white episode showing a bludgeoned bride staring death in the face as Bill, the man whose name she keeps bellowing, closes in on her, poised for the coup de grace in the form of a cap in the head. Well, this is about what happens when you get knocked up by your master assassin and run away from him all out of the blue, with his child in your womb, no less.
As impossible as it seems, not before long, she somehow sidesteps death and wakes up from her coma in a hospital. A dead weakened body crawling with atrophied muscles and a hole in the head usher her into this second life she gets. Soon though, up and kicking, she puts together a blacklist of people to kill- Vernita Green aka Copperhead, now going by a new name, O-Ren Ishii, the capo of the Tokyo underworld, Elle Driver, Budd, and finally, topping off the list, Bill- the big man who put together The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, mapped out the whole shebang, and therefore the prime culprit.
Speaking of whom, much like Marcellus Wallace in Pulp Fiction,in the instances that he is revealed, we only get to see Bill’s hand caressing a Katana, or hear his low, collected, out-and-out commending voice, his countenance thus remaining a mystery, on the other hand, until well towards the denouement.
Structure-wise, it decidedly bears Tarantino’s unmistakable stamp- it breaks down into chapters, it’s got the usual flashbacks,the distorted, non-linear narrative’s all there. What’s more, even though Kill Bill was released as two separate movies in 2003 and 2004 respectively, it was filmed all at once, and Tarantino never did consider it as two, but only one movie.
Now, what I really got off on- not only does it show certain flashbacks anime-like, but its tremendous score is akin to one, and if we add the Japanese into the equation, I guess I wouldn’t be too out of place if I put this one down as an anime turned movie, to a a certain extent. The story is there- dramatic and impactful. Cinematic face-offs too. Even though it does falter now and then, and has its moments, the driven and original vision it exhibits is nothing short of overwhelming. Putting two and two together, I’d thus say this makes it, for one thing, pretty much a slam dunk for anime fanatics.
On a different note, as it’s plain to see, Tarantino does anything but come over as hung up on the “hows” in making this movie- he doesn’t seem to have broken his neck trying to give it the ring of truth. The story is, in all fairness, nothing short of far-fetched. How could she carry her katana around like that on the plane? One may be quick to say that these are only examples betraying the carelessness for detail behind the veneer of a so-called masterpiece, whose only claims to this title, as matter of fact, are the pompous dialogue, the so-celebrated violence, and the occasional structure gimmicks. And they couldn’t be more off-base. Granted, the far-fetchedness is there. There’s no denying it- it rolls in no later than Black Mamba and Copperhead engage in this slightly-over-the-top mano a mano. That said- and I’m not trying to whitewash the eye-candy facet of the flick- I gather certain compromises must all but always be made. If Kill Bill is anything, that’s ejoyable. And on this altar is where part of the on-the-nose veracity is sacrificed. Is it worth it? Hell yeah, it is. As Tarantino himself has many times put it, a great flick is a hang-out movie. That is to say that it brings forth such memorable characters, that they make for a most rewatchable film. Just to come back and spend time- hang out- with the character in question. Like with a good ol’ pal. I couldn’t put it any better and I reckon that’s what all in the end boils down to. You can say Kill Bill is nothing more than eye candy and needless bloodshed cloaking an otherwise simplistic film all you want, but the characters – only take the bride for example- are just that: one-of-a-kind, great, memorable, hang-out characters. They are alive and distinct individuals. They stay with you and feel like fun to have around.
I don’t suppose a film behind such brilliance could itself be dubbed anything otherwise than brilliant ? The fight stunts and violence mean nothing, even go toward debasing a movie, when they serve as nothing more than a safety net, and are intended to redeem a hopeless case. Here, on the other hand, they only complement a deftly woven story and a gripping universe. Needless to say, having a katana holder on the plane betokens the fact that this is, as with a fairy-tale and what have you, a case of you having to suspend disbelief and knock off scoffing left and right at exaggerations, so as to be able to truly enjoy yourself, and simply signals a different world from our own, where these things just happen. Anyhow, what I do know for a fact is this is as safe a bet as they come in terms of how likely it actually is you’ll get a kick out of it and highlights like no other Tarantino’s flamboyance and naturalness of style, as well as his imaginativeness- as a director and screenwriter alike. Delicious film.