Last night Matt and I went to the Arclight to see Kill Bill, the 4th film from Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino’s last film, Jackie Brown, was in 1998, and I was less than impressed at the time. However, Kill Bill looked like it would be fun – a stylized throwback to the 1970s Kung-Fu action films, with the Tarantino ultra-violence.
The fight scenes dominate this film (“Vol. 1”), and the sound design really helps sell the action. It’s not surprising that Yuen Wo Ping choreographed them – he’s one of the best out there, with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Matrix trilogy, and a slew of Hong Kong films to his credit. The gore and violence result in a weird combination of “uncomfortably shocking” and “laughably absurd” reactions. The blood spray is Monty Python-esque – it’s like a firehose gushing out, which diminishes the shock value. And to their credit, in the major fight scene towards the end, with Uma Thurman dispatching 88 fighters with her sword, the filmmakers opted to switch into black and white – which reduces the red blood / gore impact on screen, and makes it a bit more tame.
There is an Anime sequence in the film, which is also excessively violent, but very stylized and rather impressive animation-wise. Tarantino really knows his material, and the Japanese segment of the film makes liberal use of Japanese with English subtitles – he knows his audience will go with it. The look of the film is crisp and colorful, and the music, well, Tarantino has always had impeccable taste when it comes to the music in his films. The soundtrack is loud and punchy, and this is a big theater movie.
But action aside, how is it as a film? Well, it’s just alright. The film, which reportedly was running nearly 4 hours long, has been split into two parts. This film is just the first half, and since it was never originally envisioned as a two-part film, the break seems a little forced. It’s too bad we have to wait until February to get the rest of the story. Plot wise, we’re only given half of it, and it’s rather “light”, considering the bulk of screentime is devoted to fighting. That’s not to say we weren’t entertained – far from it! But still, a little more plot is expected from the 2nd part…. we barely even got to see Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen!
Note: do not bring little kids to this film. There was a couple in front of us who brought their 6-year old daughter. Idiots. They had to take her out 20 minutes into the film, because it was too violent. Duh, ya think!? Irresponsible parenting, at its finest. Urgh.