Kill Bill


In the year 2003, Uma Thurman will kill Bill

Jurassic Mark

SCORE:  2.5Stars

Quentin Tarantino's fourth film (as we are told in the opening credits???) is a joyless mixed bag:  sick and inspired.  Kill Bill contains some scenes I never want to see in any movie.  Having seen my share of martial arts movies and exploitation pictures, I want to know which movies Tarantino is emulating?  Please don't email me with the actual titles.  I have no doubt that exploitation films going back to the 1960's (which the film's soundtrack emulates at least one point) are just as gory, but none of the films I've seen from this era make me feel like a POW at the Hanoi Hilton.  Tarantino has an underling viciousness (a will to disturb us) that I don't find present in most action films of today or exploitation films going back to the 1960's. 
Scenes I never want to see in a movie:
1.  I never want to see a movie with an extended close-up of a blood-splattered woman's face as a cretin gives her a lecture about sadism versus masochism when we know damn well he's going to blow her brains out.  I also don't want to see her brains blown out.  The sound of the gun being fired is enough.
2.  I never want to see a knife fight between a protagonist, a villain, and a villain's daughter ever, ever again.  And, should this happen again in the future history of cinema, I don't want a scene where the protagonist has to explain to the child why the child's mother is dead.  And failing all of that, I don't want the payoff of the scene to be a lame joke about how the protagonist will be around just in case the child grows up wanting revenge.  I also don't want the protagonist and villain to refer to each other as "bitch" more than a few times because we get the ever-loving point already. 
3.  I never want to see a "humorous" rape scene.  The rape scene wasn't funny in Pulp Fiction, neither is the (sort of) necrophilia rape scene here.  Tarantino's reference to his own previous film by using a character much like Zed (down to the distinctive set of keys) makes me wonder how many ideas "Q" really has.
4.  I never want to see a live action scene with a pre-pubescent girl straddling an adult male (engaged in sex, before, after or during???).  I don't want to see said girl drive a sword entirely through the males body, twisting the blade so blood can splatter all over everything.  Thankfully, this scene never exists "live action" because it occurs in animation.  If the scene were live action, it never would have made an "R" rating.  In fact, the scene would never have existed at all outside of the illegal branch of the porno industry.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen a live-action, commercial movie with a young girl straddling an adult male?  I think the anime sequence exists because it is the only way Q could film the scene in the first place.   I'll grant Q the style.  It doesn't mean I have to like the content. 
5.  I never want to see endless scenes that make me unsure whether the director is paying homage to martial arts movies or Monty Python's The Holy Grail, the second Addams Family movie or Dan Akroyd Saturday Night Live skits.  Blood splaying can be funny for a few seconds (perhaps minutes).  Fifteen or twenty minutes gets old.  Let's move on clever Q. 
All this being said, there are the inspired bits.  Kill Bill will thrill.
With the negatives out of the way, I liked a lot of the art direction in Kill Bill.  Just as Pulp Fiction is ultimately a tale of redemption, I love how Q can follow up a 15-20 minute blood-letting with a gorgeous snow-filled courtyard where the stakes between combatants are just as high, but, ever more elegant. 
Also, Kill Bill has a magnificent soundtrack.  Unlike Pulp Fiction, where you could buy the "motion picture cd" and listen to it over and over, in Kill Bill, the music is designed to accent the action on-screen with what can only be called brilliance.  Every kind of music is fair game including a TV theme I couldn't quite put my finger on:  "Police Woman" starring Angie Dickinson perhaps.  Or was it Ironsides with Raymond Burr.   I dunno, but it works great.
None of the scenes in Kill Bill equal the showdown between Uma Thurman (our heroine) and Lucy Liu (a villain).  Q has given us a soap opera in the truest sense.  Characters in Kill Bill are like George Lucas CGI wannabes:  no development whatsoever.  All we have is a weak story about revenge.  Kill Bill has a lot of "bitches" (his term not mine).  In fact, the only male threat (Bill) is never seen on camera.  No, wait a minute, there are a few men who can mix it up with the ladies, but they all wear masks.  Their identity is deliberately unimportant.  Q deserves credit for turning the tables on male dominated exploitation pictures where women are merely objects (more thoroughly here than in Jackie Brown).
Ultimately, Kill Bill's greatest sin is that it fails to deliver laughs when comedy seems to be the ultimate goal.  No, I take that back.  Kill Bill's ultimate goal is to be cool.  Most of the scenes don't work because Q has ditched wit and feeling for style and posturing.