Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, David Carradine
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Distributor: Miramax Films
It seems amazing that the first instalment of Quentin Tarantino’s two-part martial arts extravaganza is only three years old. But few would deny that Kill Bill – Volume 1 has already attained the status of a modern cult classic. Sucking up references from spaghetti westerns, Samurai slaughter flicks and Japanese anime, the film spews all these and more back out at us with a vengeance. It’s pure pulp, but with such a cheeky twist that it’s an absolute pleasure to gobble the mess up.
Co-conceived by the notoriously outrageous director and his stunning muse Uma Thurman, the story revolves around the revenge sought by a character known only as The Bride (Thurman) on the gang who killed all the guests at her wedding and left her for dead with a bullet in her head. Miraculously, after four years in a coma, she awakens to discover that she has lost the baby she was carrying and howls like a she-wolf with her grief. It’s in scenes like this that Thurman kicks emotional butt, hooking us in to the driving force behind the blood-drenched rampage that follows.
Her targets are the five members of The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS), and the first name on her Death List is Vernita Green aka Copperhead (Vivacia A. Fox) who she ticks off after a domestic knife fight witnessed by Vernita’s four year old daughter. Next comes O-Ren Ishii aka Cotton Mouth (Lucy Liu) who now rules the Tokyo underworld. Her motivation for becoming the brutal killer that she did, is revealed in a brilliant anime sequence – possibly the only way to show an eleven year old girl exact revenge on the mafia boss responsible for killing her parents by succumbing to his paedophiliac tendencies and, while astride him, sinking a sword in his stomach.
It may not be comparable to Zhang Yimou’s Hero or Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon but Kill Bill obviously never set out to rival such exquisite master strokes. Instead, it pays homage to the work of the 1970s Hong Kong based production company The Shaw Brothers with a crazy camp splatter fest that culminates, as all good martial arts movies must, in a snow draped garden of a traditional Japanese tea house. And The Bride is no longer in white, but in a white hot yellow leather biker suit. Wow!