Copyright 1999-2003 3BlackChicks Enterprises™. All Rights Reserved.

Bams' review of
Kill Bill Vol. 1


Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Rated R; running time 110 minutes
Studio: Miramax Films
Genre: Action/Martial Arts/Anime
Seen at: Uptown Palladium 12 (Birmingham, Michigan)
Official site:
IMDB site:
Cinematography: Robert Richardson
Choreography: Sonny Chiba (Kenjutsu)
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine, Chiaki Kuriyama, Julie Dreyfus, Gordon Liu, Michael Madsen, Jun Kunimura, Michael Parks

Review Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003

(click here to skip to this movie's rating)

Two things I really want to see for Tarantino in February 2004: Kill Bill Vol. 2, and the announcer saying "And the Oscar goes to..."

THE STORY (WARNING: **spoilers contained below**)
If revenge truly is a dish best serve cold, Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) is one frozen Viper.

Down in the West Texas town of El Paso, a Sheriff (Michael Parks) comes upon a bloody scene: nine members of a wedding party have been methodically slaughtered. Only the very pregnant bride remained alive. Beaten to a bloody pulp, shot in the head, left for dead, and in a coma for four years, yes; but still, alive. That was their first mistake.

The Bride is "Black Mamba", the deadliest member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (DiVAS), all of whose members are named after poisonous snakes. When she wakes from her coma, Black Mamba sets off to get the people who gave her the beat down: the other DiVAS, including "Cottonmouth"/O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), "Copperhead"/Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), "California Mountain Snake"/Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), "Sidewinder"/Budd (Michael Madsen), and the man behind it all, Bill (David Carradine). Bad enough that Bill was the one who shot Black Mamba, point blank. But that's not all Bill gave her...

Well, folks, it looks like I've found my new Best Movie of 2003. Sorry, Nemo.

Make no mistake about it: Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a very, very violent movie. Those with weak constitutions are warned that, well, Quentin Tarantino's vaunted Movie World just ain't a happy place. There is hack-and-slash galore here, to the point where you almost become immune to seeing limbs gushing and spurting with (purposefully) fake-looking blood. Most of Black Mamba's targets are left with somewhat less than what they came to the fight with. But if you can get over that, then you're in for a treat: because Kill is Tarantino's masterpiece.

Inside Kill, Tarantino joyfully creates a universe that reflects his early filmmaking influences. There are elements of Japanese samurai films, Chinese martial arts flicks, anime (which I gained a deeper appreciation of, due to this film), and even spaghetti westerns, all blended into Tarantino's melting pot of a movie. This potpourri, in lesser hands, might've become an ugly mess. But through the eyes of Tarantino and his gifted cinematographer, Robert Richardson, we see a dazzling world of shadow and light, of deep dark humor, and of deadly beauty.

But it's not just his eyes that entertain us; Tarantino, mixmaster that he is, also brings his love for eclectic music to an audience mind-numbed by umpteen "Music Inspired By The Movie" soundtracks. Here, the music fits the action to a t: The Bride gets shot? Emphasize that with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)". Black Mamba needs theme music? Let "Theme From Ironside" provide the bass. And where others may have used haunting Asian music as an exclamation point for the showdown in the Snow Garden, Tarantino instead scores it with flamenco music.

Tarantino surrounded himself with talent galore, especially in the three actresses at center stage in this, the first of two installments. Uma Thurman, to put it mildly, kicked major ass as the wronged Black Mamba. A Tarantino movie vet, Thurman's steely, honor-driven determination had me cheering for her from beginning to end, especially during the homage to Bruce Lee and his yellow jumpsuit. Though her character was less sympathetic than the wronged Black Mamba's, Vivica A. Fox impressed me mightily as "Copperhead"/Vernita Green. Her fierce protectiveness of her daughter, and the humorous fight scene between Copperhead and Black Mamba, made for a great way to open this movie.

But most impressive of all as Lucy Liu as "Cottonmouth"/O-Ren Ishii. Liu wisely decided to play O-Ren not as a coldhearted animatron, but instead as a soft china doll; this made her sudden transformation to fierce Yakuza warrior, all the more startling. The scene where she confronts Boss Tanaka (Jun Kunimura) left me stunned; and the Snow Garden showdown between Cottonmouth and Black Mamba was beautiful and breathtaking.

The supporting players were no slouches, either. Both Daryl Hannah (who will have a more substantial role in Kill Bill Vol. 2) and the young Chiaki Kuriyama (as Go Go Yubari) left no doubt that they weren't the sweet little things we might've expected to see. And though David Carradine's Bill only briefly makes his (mostly unseen) mark here, actor (and Kenjutsu choreographer) Sonny Chiba provides plenty of masculine input as Hattori Hanzo, the swordsmaster to whom Black Mamba comes for his legendary steel. His Hattori gave this movie a sense of warrior's honor that was important in setting the tone of Kill Bill Vol. 1 as not just another chop socky flick.

There will be some, no doubt, who will be confused by Kill Bill Vol. 1, and its conglomeration of multiple movie genres. You'll understand it best if you read up on Tarantino and his background. But though that will be an aid, I don't think it's vital; just sit back, get over the vast amount of blood, and appreciate a master at work.

Kill Bill Vol. 1 is just bloody brilliant. In more ways than one.

KILL BILL VOL. 1:   green

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And that's the way I see it.

Rose "Bams" Cooper
3BlackChicks Review™
Copyright Rose Cooper, 2003
EMAIL:    ICQ: 7760005

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed through 10/10/03):

Bams' reviews:
Kill Bill Vol. 1 | Intolerable Cruelty

The Diva's reviews:
Kill Bill Vol. 1 | House Of The Dead

Cass' reviews:
Lost In Translation

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