After all the blood is spattered and the severed limbs all fall to the ground, Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” serves as the perfect homage to the grindhouse flicks of the ’70s. The director’s love for the body genres emanates from the screen, beginning with the title and lasting all the way until the end credits.
The film radiates with style, from the incredible soundtrack to the stunning sets. Having the requisite flash and glitz compensates for a paper-thin plot. Uma Thurman plays The Bride, a former assassin wronged by her boss, Bill, unseen but audible, and the four-member Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. The DiVAS left The Bride — who was pregnant — for dead after massacring her wedding party. Now she seeks revenge against those who wronged her.
The plot serves merely as the mechanism for The Bride to exact her retribution, culminating in beautiful and brutal violence. The fights range from realistic to cartoonish, best exemplified by the stunning anime sequence. The eight-minute section tells the origin of O-Ren (Lucy Liu), one of Bill’s assassins who was responsible for the wedding attack. As Thurman dismembers foe after foe, Tarantino manages to film the scenes as though it is a skillfully choreographed dance, making the grotesque and often gruesome slayings attractive to the viewer. The pristine widescreen transfer brings the bloody mayhem to life, even on the small screen, while the carefully selected music enlivens the film in the Dolby Digital soundtrack.
For a movie so entrenched in its filmmaker and star, the features should be plentiful and informative. “Kill Bill: Vol.1” fails in this regard. Instead of a commentary track with Tarantino where he could discuss not only the process of making the movie, but also provide insight into all the films that inspired this tribute to the exploitation genre, there is nothing. Thurman could have been involved and discussed the creation of The Bride character with Quentin, but she is noticeably absent from the extras. The only things included on this edition are a meager “making-of” featurette, music videos of the Japanese band featured in “The House of Blue Leaves” chapter and trailers for Tarantino’s film catalog.
As a revenge film, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” is the culmination of the best parts of the genre. Though the lack of an engrossing storyline remains its biggest fault, the frenetic action and incredible style will likely lure viewers back to see if The Bride gets her retribution in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2.” As a DVD, fans are better off waiting for the obligatory special edition that will be released after “Vol. 2” finishes its theatrical run.
Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Picture/Sound: 4 out of 5 stars
Features: 0.5 out of 5 stars
View this story as it appears in print (requires Acrobat Reader).