Plot: What’s it about?
2003 was a big year for long-awaited films. Two big film series (Matrix, LOTR) were coming towards the end of their respectable trilogies, a clownfish and a short term memory fish were determined to find his son in the ocean and a director who had not directed a movie in six years was ready for a return, but this would be no ordinary return without risk. Many years ago after shooting was finished on Pulp Fiction, Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman (Q and U) concocted a story about a woman out for revenge samurai style. Growing up in a small NY borough, every Saturday afternoon/late night on a local channel, it was common to have the “Drive In Movie” with kung fu flicks hopping the screen. Some were cheesy, but then again every once in a while the viewer would come across one that makes one wonder “how did this film make it on the air”? Nine years later after the big concoction on the Pulp set, the same studio that gave Quentin Tarantino a green light on a landmark film loved the footage and both agreed that it’s two movies and both volumes will be released a few months apart from one another. With the loyalty of his star out for a year before and the curiosity of the public after a great teaser trailer throughout the summer along with a few changes in the cast, Quentin and Uma had only two words to the title of their story: Kill Bill.
It’s a dark day in the South. An unidentified lady who’s only known as “The Bride” (Uma Thurman) is beat up and shot by a crew know as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. These assassins are led by a mysterious fellow named “Bill” (David Carradine), who lays the last bullet in her after a short talk. Darkness follows, and the wallows of Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang My Baby’s Shot Me Down” *60’s guitar vibrating*.
After a four year coma, The Bride wakes up in her hospital bed full of rage, numbness and determination to exact revenge on all four of the assassins (Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Vivica A. Fox, and Michael Madsen) to pay the heavy price for what they did and putting a stop through any obstacles that get in her way to accomplish her mission leading up to her final task of all: to Kill Bill.
With an event like this, to see Tarantino get behind the directors chair once again, the viewer asks “was it worth the wait?” In the words of Robert Evans, you bet your ass it is!
As the end credits rolled this one volume was one of the most mind-boggling viewings on both a big screen and a small screen and with all it’s varieties of genre represented, this was one of the best movies I had seen last year.
Yes it is a revenge tale and audiences have seen thousands of revenge tales time and time again but no one can prepare you for revenge through the eyes of Quentin Tarantino. Here, he brings his signature “non-linear” storytelling back with a vengeance and his ear for dialogue has not failed him one bit. He makes a samurai film with intelligence and back stories to fill five movies all at once. The visual look is amazing as he makes some transitions in the palette widely amongst the entire film mixed very nicely with some obscure and known tunes that play throughout the movie. An audience especially knows that something is really gonna come their way in the beginning after the studio logo complete with a Shaw Scope symbol in full Panavision and a generic 60s/70s drive-in Grind House “Our Feature Presentation” spot.
The film starts with a loud bang literally and never lets up. The performances by all, big and small, are one for the books. Uma Thurman brings that “I’m so mad I’m gonna kill them” anger to the table as The Bride or “*bleeeep*”. She lets her actions speak louder than words and the words she lets out are from the wise and all knowing. The action sequences are fast, fierce and full of energy and look out for that little girl in the school girl outfit, she’s not as innocent as she looks!!! With all that is fantastic about this movie, there are two upshots.
One upshot of this movie is that the action is mostly bloody and not easy to take for much of the audiences expecting the normal action fare, which this is not, and this film reaches for the extreme and beyond. The other is that the film ends and the viewers that are totally drawn in will have to wait and see what The Bride or “bleeeep” does next in Vol. 2. With all that’s great about this Volume, here is hoping that it will not fall under a case of how-do-you-top-that-itus weaking the second volume. (I don’t think so).
Video: How does it look?
Kill Bill Vol. 1 looked pretty darn good on standard DVD some four years ago and granted not that much time has passed since its initial release. This Blu-ray gives us a bit more in terms of depth, detail and overall picture quality which is to be expected. The 2.40:1 HD AVC transfer is a notch or two above the DVD. The film is interestingly shot to say the least, there are several different types of film stock used; from the grainy black and white opening to the ten minute animated sequence its really a bit hard to categorize it all. Still, the detail is razor sharp and the colors seem to be a bit more lively (especially that oh-so-present color of red) than the previous version. Fans of the movie will no doubt be taken with the impressive visuals as thats what Kill Bill is all about.
Audio: How does it sound?
While the original standard DVD contained dual Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, what we get with this Blu-ray is a PCM uncompressed mix that again makes headway over the previous edition. The movie has something going on, audio-wise, in most every second and we do get the deep thuds when something or someone gets hit or something explodes and I had forgotten about that ever-present blip when Beatri—, er The Brides name is mentioned. While this isnt the best soundtrack out there, its quite impressive and we can see how much audio adds to a film as evidenced here. Again, viewers wont be disappointed with this new uncompressed mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Disney has taken to putting pretty much the same features on this disc as they did with the standard DVD some four years ago. We get the same The Making of Kill Bill Volume 1 featurette as well as the 5, 6, 7, 8s bonus musical performances. What appears to be new are the Tarantino Trailers which are pretty self-explanatory: trailers for Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 as well as teasers for the latter two.