Kill Bill: Vol. 1

2003, Movie, R, 96 mins

Review

KILL BILL: VOL. 1
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Quentin Tarantino's feverish homage to the cherished exploitation experiences of his youth may be the world's first movie-as-mix tape. Not a slapdash party tape with a bunch of popular stuff strung carelessly together, but a loving compendium of Proustian images and melodies, the more obscure the better, meticulously juxtaposed and segued into each other so they evoke an integrated memory of endless pulp highs savored in the smoky haze of grindhouses and darkened basements. If your sensibilities are in line with Tarantino's, the result is sheer sleaze Nirvana. In Vol. 1, a hugely pregnant professional assassin, code-named Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), is attacked and left for dead on her wedding day; her wedding guests and sundry bystanders are all murdered. The killers are the Bride's sisters in slaughter, fellow members of DiVAS (the Deadly Viper Assassins Squad — any resemblance to PULP FICTION's "Fox Force Five" is no doubt intentional): Elle Driver, aka California Mountain Snake (Daryl Hannah), Vernita Green, aka Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii, aka Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu), aided by ex-viper Budd (Michael Madsen). All answer to Bill (David Carradine), who personally delivers the coup de grace — a bullet to the bloody bride's head. But the Bride doesn't die, and Bill calls off a second assassination attempt at her hospital bedside, where she lies comatose. Cut to four years later: The Bride awakens, thirsting for revenge. She makes a list, formulates a plan and gets to work. In the film's lightly fractured chronology, she first takes on her second target, Copperhead, whom she surprises in her suburban Pasadena living room. Then it's back one step: After a stop over in Okinawa to persuade a legendary sword master ('70s kung-fu star Sonny Chiba) to make one last lethal blade, the Bride proceeds to Tokyo, where Cottonmouth has risen to rule Tokyo's seething underworld. At the House of Blue Leaves, a gleaming restaurant/nightclub complex whose glass dance floor, shoji-screens, graceful staircases and serene garden cry out to be spattered with enough blood to paint Hell itself red, the Bride and Cottonmouth's minions face off. Tarantino's movie madeleines include yakuza epics, spaghetti Westerns, anime, chop-socky pictures, Italian gialli, euro-sexploitation and TV shows of the 1960s and '70s. His epic reworking of their lurid conventions proved so long that it was divided into two parts, and this one ends on a hell of a cliffhanger. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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