Quentin Tarantino’s fourth feature (sub-category: terrible title) is Kill Bill: Vol. 1, which I will review in chapters like Tarantino has used in every bloody movie.
Chapter I: Fox Force Five – The Movie
Uma Thurman plays an unnamed assassin, seeking vengeance on the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who tried to kill her. And by “unnamed”, I mean that her name is actually beeped out. It’s really annoying. Maybe it’s a joke, but it’s hard to tell – and that’s a pervasive problem with the movie; it walks a clumsy line between martial arts parody and semi-serious exploitationer. Tarantino’s sporadically funny but largely tone-deaf comedy, combined with a distinct lack of restraint, results in a decidedly witless pastiche.
Chapter II: Tarantinoh-no-she-better-don’t
He overloads the film with excessive violence, endless homage and people he fancies; Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen… and of course Uma Thurman as BEEEEEP. Her yellow motorcycle outfit is instantly iconic, but the problem (besides the helmet hair) is that she’s not really cool enough to pull off this role. It’s a gawky reference to Sergio Leone’s Man with No Name, but the (Quen)tin-eared dialogue makes her more Tim Westwood than Clint Eastwood. “It’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness I lack; not rationality.” Who talks like that?
Chapter III: From Hero to Hostel
This is particularly odd given Tarantino’s previous form in terms of dialogue. Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown were ingeniously written, positively fizzing with dark wit, compelling characters and pop literacy. But the inanely excessive Kill Bill sees Tarantino’s unpredictable bursts of violence replaced by an unending stream of uninteresting bloodshed. It looks as though a decade of (deserved) praise went to Quentin’s movie-geek head, and he was granted the resources and autonomy to let his most fanboyish indulgences run wild.
Chapter IV: Overkill Bill
Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is frustrating in its glimpses of Tarantino’s brilliance. There are some great music cues (and that godawful Woo-Hoo song), a cool animé sequence and more shots of women’s feet. But you know what else played with martial arts and animé? The Matrix – and it did so with way more style and substance, four years earlier. This 2003 bloodbath is overwhelmed by Tarantino’s bludgeoning (and misfiring) attempts to make something really cool. Indulgent, immature and lazy, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is little more than a demented Britney Spears video.