Film Review: Kill Bill
In 2003 and 2004, Quentin Tarantino released Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2 as a two-part film originally meant for a single release. Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Julie Dreyfus, Sonny Chiba, Michael Parks, Michael Bowen, Samuel L. Jackson, Larry Bishop, Sid Haig, Perla Haney-Jardine, and Clark Middleton, the two films grossed $180.9 million and $152.2 million at the box office. The first film won the Empire Awards for Best Actress and Best Director as well as the MTV Movie Awards for Best Female Performance, Best Villain, and Best Fight. The second won the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight, and the Saturn Awards for Best Action/Adventure Film, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actress.
A former assassin known as The Bride wants to pursue a life of normalcy, but her former crew, the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad, sees her departure as treason. During The Bride’s wedding rehearsal, the squad crashes and slaughters the wedding party with Bill shooting her in the head. Four years later, she wakes up from a coma and vows to kill Bill.
Originally meant to be a four hour long film, Kill Bill is a very interesting film with its two volumes having very distinct feels to each other. The first film presents a lot of action, but very little in the way of story and the second has more story than action. Doing it this way makes the two films good complements of each other as we get The Bride’s unleashed rage and desperation in the first, seeing her overcome and surviving insurmountable opposition, and then the full backstory and the complete reason as to why she wants revenge so badly. Further, though both films are an interesting mixing of a martial arts samurai western revenge story, the first film focuses more on the samurai and martial arts aspects while the second brings the western vibe to the forefront, though it still keeps the samurai and martial arts elements, seen with Pai Mei.
The members of the assassin squad and Bill also make for very entertaining villains and are very distinct in their own ways. At the top, there’s Bill who’s a master assassin and has no qualms about killing people or sending others to do the deed. But the only reason he went on the rampage to kill The Bride in the beginning is because she made him think she was dead and broke his heart. He also has standards when it comes to ending lives as he won’t let Elle kill The Bride in her sleep because it would be dishonorable and would lower them. Compare that with Elle who is shown as having no problem killing someone in her sleep or in other dishonorable ways, such as using poison to kill Budd or Pai Mei. She’s also the most sinister and evil out of all of The Bride’s targets as she shows no regret and never tries to be respectful to anyone. Yet, she still considers The Bride to at least be a worthy opponent, which is why she kills Budd for giving her an unworthy death.
But when it comes to Budd, there’s more to him than it seems. At first glance, he looks like an idiotic drunken redneck. But he is savvy enough to exploit The Bride’s behavior and instead of dueling her, fires a shotgun full of rock salt at her chest. It makes him an entertaining villain on The Bride’s path to complete revenge as he’s the only one who was even moderately victorious over her. His not killing her also speaks to his character as he shows regret for his life as an assassin, his guilt causing him to make a meager living as a bouncer while living in a trailer out in the desert, as he wants to die because of what he’s done and figures if The Bride lives from him burying her alive and escapes, then she deserved to live more than he did.
As for the other two assassins that The Bride gets her revenge on, they both show cowardice to face The Bride in their own ways as well. O-Ren hides behind her minions and Vernita hides behind her family.
There’s also humorous irony in the climax when The Bride finally faces Bill. Throughout the two films, she’s been getting into incredibly violent fights that involve absurd amounts of blood, including tearing out Elle’s eye and stepping on it. Yet, her fight with Bill is the shortest in the story as both begin to fight, but The Bride’s sword is tossed aside, she manages to be able to sheath Bill's and then performs the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. It’s oddly hilarious as the whole time, the audience has been expecting a huge fight that’s even more violent and complicated than anything else the films had shown, even setting up for a fight on the beach in the moonlight or at dawn. Then it’s all over in barely any time at all.
Still, Bill’s death speaks more to his character in that he faces it with dignity. All he does is straighten his jacket, wipes off the blood, gets up and walks away before falling.
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