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Tarantino Movies have been bridging the gap between cult classic cinema and mainstream entertainment since Quentin Tarantino burst onto the screen with the movies Reservoir Dogs in 1992 and Pulp Fiction in 1994. His homages to cinema genre have made a film student of many of us, introduced a new generation of fans to genres of the past or even brought that genre to the forefront of cinema again. Genres to have received the Tarantino treatment include the western, eastern, blaxploitation, war, and even heist and slasher films.
His discipline in focusing on a smaller but more satisfying port folio of Tarantino movies over the last twenty years has seen him become this generation’s Stanley Kubrick.
In this hub I will rank my favourite Tarantino movies and give you the chance to do the same. To be eligible as a Tarantino movie, the film must be both written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. This criteria would exclude films such as Natural Born Killers and True Romance, which were not directed by Tarantino. I have included Jackie Brown because he adapted it to the screen from the book Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard.
The Tarantino movies to be ranked will be:
Reservoir Dogs (1992)
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Jackie Brown (1996)
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Kill Bill Vol.2 (2004)
Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)
Inglourious Basterds (2009)
Tarantino Movie Montage
Pulp Fiction (1994) Trailer
No. One Tarantino Movie: Pulp Fiction (1994)
Pulp Fiction is always the number one Tarantino movie for me, and like for a lot of people is my favourite movie of all time. Released in 1994, it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Picture as well as in six other categories. It also won the It was also awarded the Palme d'Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. The influence that Pulp Fiction had on popular culture, its quotable scenes and unique soundtrack means I have no hesitation in putting it as number one on the list.
Highly stylized, nonlinear and with intersecting storylines and classic dialogue, Pulp Fiction launched Tarantino into the mainstream. It’s a movie about morals and etiquette in a world which doesn’t appear to have any.
As well as launching Tarantino’s directing career, Pulp Fiction also did amazing things for the careers of much of its ensemble star cast. John Travolta’s career was rejuvenated and Uma Thurman’s, Samuel L. Jackson’s and even VIng Rhames’ careers were legitimised by starring in Pulp Fiction. Bruce Willis, Tim Roth and Harvey Keitel also contribute to a film which is built by the punchy dialogue between the cast. Christopher Walken also has a classic scene. Tarantino himself appears as Jimmy in ‘The Bonnie Situation’ segment of the movie.
Reservoir Dogs (1992) Trailer
No. Two Tarantino Movie: Reservoir Dogs (1992)
A heist film that doesn’t show the heist, Reservoir Dogs was a unique and groundbreaking film from its unforgettable opening scene to its Mexican standoff ending. Its language and violence, particularly the infamous torture scene either enthralled or disgusted audiences, or both in some cases, both! Empire Magazine ranked it as the greatest independent film of all time.
As with its successor, Pulp Fiction and most of Tarantino movies, Reservoir Dogs features an ensemble cast. Harvey Keitel starred as Mr White, but also produced and was integral to getting the movie funded. Tim Roth, Steve Buscemi and Chris Penn star, as does Michael Madsen, who gives an unforgettable performance as Mr Blonde. Tarantino and former criminal Eddie Bunker have small roles as members of the gang who die early in the film, either during the heist or subsequent escape.
Reservoir Dogs lacks the budget and production values of the Tarantino movies that followed. However, the film used what budget it did have well, and the story, acting and dialogue still hold up almost twenty years later. Upon release it did particularly well in Britain. However, it wasn’t until the success of Pulp Fiction when it started getting recognition in the United States and around the world.
Inglourious Basterds (2009) Trailer
No. Three Tarantino Movie: Inglourious Basterds (2009)
After a relatively quiet 15 years, Quentin Tarantino reacquainted himself with Oscar nominations for the latest Tarantino movie, Inglourious Basterds. This time his film received 8 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Christoph Waltz, who played Hans Landa, won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, BAFTA Award and Golden Globe. It was a return to critical acclamation for Tarantino, who hadn’t been nominated for an Academy Award since Pulp Fiction in 1994.
Tarantino proudly rewrites history in this World War II movie homage. In it he mixes masterfully suspenseful dialogue with shocking violence. The film stars Brad Pitt, Christoph Waltz, Michael Fassbender, Eli Roth, Diane Kruger, Daniel Brühl, Til Schweiger and Mélanie Laurent. Inglourious Basterds is also notable for a number of cameos by both surprising stars and Tarantino movie regulars.
In my opinion Inglourious Basterds stands apart from the other Tarantino movies, either because its setting is so vastly different from any of the others, or because it was intended to appeal to a broader audience. It may not be classic Tarantino, such as Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs or the Kill Movies, but based on its own merits as a film, it easily holds onto third place.
Kill Bill Vol.2
Kill Bill Vol.2 (2004) Trailer
No. Four Tarantino Movie: Kill Bill Vol.2 (2004)
In some ways it is quite difficult to rank the Kill Bill movies separately, but they are actually both quite different films. Watch them both together, as they were most likely intended, and they are quite the masterpiece. As single films they are perhaps not quite complete. Miramax has been criticised for releasing the Tarantino movie into two volumes solely to make money. The combined running time of the two movies would be over 4 hours, however. Tarantino himself appears to view the Kill Bills as one film in the numbering of the subsequent Tarantino movies.
I’ve ranked Kill Bill Volume II just ahead of the first volume. I see it as a homage to the spaghetti western genre, although the eastern theme features prominently in both. Original western/eastern cross over star David Carradine even appears as title-character, Bill. Volume II features classic Tarantino suspense and dialogue. Michael Madsen has a memorable stint as Bud, and the film also contains the classic Uma Thurman versus Daryl Hannah in a trailer fight scene.
Kill Bill Vol.2 is sometimes criticised for not being as fast paced as the first, which is probably fair. However, while this may be true of the action pieces, a lot of the movement in the story occurs in the second. In the first film forty one people are killed, but only three in the second. The death statistics of the first film are inflated by The Bride’s battle with the Crazy 88s.
Kill Bill Vol. 2
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003) Trailer
No. Five Tarantino Movie: Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
If Kill Bill Volume II is a tribute to spaghetti westerns, Volume I is firm in its homage to the martial arts genre. The Tarantino movie is complete with samurai sword worship, masked henchmen, the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, a lethal Japanese schoolgirl and with even anime thrown in.
Kill Bill Vol.1 perfectly sets up The Bride’s epic voyage of revenge, crossing off names as she goes. There is a brutal fight between Uma Thurman’s Bride and Vivica A. Fox as Vernita ‘Copperhead’ Green. The battles the Bride has in Japan are also remarkable.
As with many Tarantino movies, the Kill Bill movies feature non-linear storytelling and flashbacks. The Kill movies were highly anticipated due to the long wait since 1997’s Jackie Brown. They made a combined US$333 million around the world. Volume I actually earned more than the second, with US$180.9 million compared to Volume II’s US$152.2 million.
Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Liu, Sonny Chiba, and Chiaki Kuriyama all feature prominently in the first Kill Bill. The RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan collaborated with Tarantino on the music. Zoe Bell did much of Uma Thurman’s stunt work in the Kill Bill movies, and having impressed Tarantino, the part of Zoe in Death Proof was written for her.
Jackie Brown (1997) Trailer
No. Six Tarantino Movie: Jackie Brown (1996)
Quentin Tarantino’s third movie as director and writer, or in this case screen adapter, comes in sixth on my list. He adapted it from ‘Rum Punch’ the novel by Elmore Leonard. It is a homage to 1960’s blaxploitation film, and stars a pretty phenomenal cast for a three time director. Pam Grier, Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton and Bridget Fonda all feature. Robert Forster was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Pam Grier and Samuel L. Jackson received Golden Globe nominations.
There are some great scenes; I particularly like the scenes with Samuel L. Jackson, Robert De Niro and Bridget Fonda. The Jackie Brown soundtrack is also one of Tarantino’s best in my opinion. Jackie Brown’s ranking as the sixth best Tarantino film is probably due to my difficulty in breaking up the two Kill Bill films, but is still a fair reflection compared to Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Inglourious Basterds and the Kill Bill movies. However, the production values are a lot higher than Reservoir Dogs, as would be expected with ten times the budget.
The soundtrack is distinctive like many Tarantino movies. However, more attention is paid to it within the film itself than with the other Tarantino movies.
Death Proof (2007) Trailer
No. Seven Tarantino Movie: Grindhouse: Death Proof (2007)
Tarantino has his turn at the slasher film in his and Robert Rodriguez’ tribute to Grindhouse b-movie, double-features. While it wasn’t hard to rank Death Proof as my least favourite Tarantino movie, there was still plenty to like about it. Tarantino’s long dialogue-filled scenes are usually a pleasure, and part and parcel of any Tarantino movie. However, at a certain point they just become self indulgent. Unfortunately that is the case with Death Proof. There are still some great lines and enjoyable scenes, but putting Death Proof at the bottom of the list is an easy call in my opinion. It’s an enjoyable film and premise, but a big step down from the other Tarantino movies and the sixth placed Jackie Brown.
Kurt Russell does a great job as the psychotic Stuntman Mike, and once we’re done with the movie-length set up, the payoff car chase is incredible. Zoe Bell, Rosario Dawson and Tracie Thoms play the victims turned predators. Bell was Uma Thurman’s stunt double in the Kill Bill movies. While her acting is a bit wooden, her ability to stay on the hood of a car while a psychopath tries to run her off the road is impeccable. The car chase scenes are notable for using stunt work instead of CGI.
In the United States and Canada Death Proof was released as a double-feature with Planet Terror, complete with fake trailers and advertised. However, they were released separately in other parts of the world.
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Quentin Tarantino Biography
Born on 27th of March, 1963 in Knoxville, Tennessee, Quentin Tarantino is known as a movie director, screenwriter, actor, cinematographer and producer. He has been nominated for Academy Awards, Golden Globes and BAFTAs. He and co-writer Roger Avary won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Pulp Fiction in 1994. Pulp Fiction and 2009’s Inglourious Basterds were both nominated for Best Picture Academy Awards. Quentin Tarantino won the Icon of the Decade award at the Sony Ericsson Empire Awards. In 2007 he was named the 12th-greatest director of all time by Total Film. His films are known for their violence, profanity, and non-linear format.
Quentin Tarantino dropped out of high school at age 15 to study acting. At 22 he was working in a video store, which is believed to have helped him accumulate an encyclopaedic knowledge of film and an appreciation for a wide variety of eras and genres. His big break came when Harvey Keitel read the script for Reservoir Dogs and agreed to co-produce and act in the film. The star power gave Reservoir Dogs the additional funding it needed and put the film ended up putting Tarantino on the map. Tarantino was then able to sell the screenplays for True Romance in 1993 and Natural Born Killers in 1994. Ignoring offers to direct some big budget Hollywood films, he decided to write and direct Pulp Fiction, and the rest, as they say, is history.
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About the Author
I am based in New Zealand and I enjoy writing about rugby, movies and music and am also interested in property investment and travel. I operate a rugby blog and a site dedicated to Tarantino movies and merchandise and contribute to a Property Investment Tips site.