When it comes to filmmaking style, director Quentin Tarantino possess a flair that is all his own, and in his epic martial arts, action, exploitation, grindhouse, revenge film Kill Bill, the director truly stepped it up a notch and crafted what I believe is his most stylistic film to date.
After awakening from a four-year coma, a former assassin wreaks vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her.
In terms of cinematic flavour, Kill Bill was a real departure from his previous films, Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown, which had all focused on one aspect or another of the crime genre, as filtered through the eyes of Tarantino. Here in Kill Bill audiences got something extremely different that was a mad cocktail of martial arts violence and grindhouse driven-in sensibilities that they were craving for, and which they adored upon seeing. A hard-hitting revenge film, where no one was to be spared, Kill Bill was a piece of cinema that went for it with everything it had and this innovative director truly delivered on the spectacle here.
Kill Bill would also introduce us to Uma Thurman’s The Bride, a woman with no name, who was once one of the deadliest assassins in the world until she was fucked over and left for dead. Awakening with violent fury, this lethal killer was out for blood and nothing would stop her in her quest for vengeance. Thurman had long been recognized as Tarantino’s muse, and with this unique character and narrative, the director had purposely crafted a piece of cinema to show off all of her acting talents and turn her into one of the medium’s most badass characters. Spot on with the burning dramatics at The Bride’s core, along with proving herself to be very talented with a katana, Thurman was perfectly cast as The Bride and she created one truly memorable character here.
Alongside Thurman’s The Bride, audiences would also be introduced to the other members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, specifically with Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii and Vivica A. Fox’s Vernita Green. Both of these ladies were ready to get some, and the action got intense for each of them with Fox and Thurman engaging in a viciously damaging knife fight, while O-Ren and The Bride would fight the duel to end all duels in the neon lit corners of the Tokyo Underworld. Both women made great adversaries for The Bride, and each was part of the perfect casting that Tarantino assembled for this film.
While Quentin Tarantino had made a name for himself as one of the coolest and most stylistic directors on the planet, his work on Kill Bill took this to a whole new level. Everything about this film was a lesson in style, from its crazed narrative to its awe-inspiring production design and costuming to the thoroughly epic soundtrack, that blended both Western and Japanese sounds. All of it made for one very cool feat of filmmaking. Kill Bill Volume 1 was also the first time that Tarantino would work with noted cinematographer Robert Richardson, and the result was a visually lavish and crisp cinematic experience that made for a very fun watch.
If you were looking for action, well, you came to the right place with Kill Bill Volume 1, because it was loaded with it. Until this point, Tarantino had never really shot action before, yes his films had dealt with incredible feats of violence and over-the-top gore, but as a filmmaker, he had yet to dip his toe into the action waters. Kill Bill changed all of that and this director proved that he had a unique eye and a real flair for crafting some of the most striking action sequences ever committed to celluloid. Tarantino would hit his audience up early with it as well, in a terrifyingly destructive knife fight at the home of Vernita Green, and after this beat down audiences were committed to what would come next.
And what came next was one bold feat of cinema! Taking place exclusively at The House of Blue Leaves, this thirty-one minute extended fight scene was a piece of gonzo martial arts chaos captured to perfection. Wielding a famed Hattori Hanzo sword and dressed in a yellow and black striped jumpsuit inspired by Bruce Lee’s The Game of Death, The Bride was ready to go to town and boy did she. Fighting a combination of O-Ren Ishii’s personal army The Crazy 88, O-Ren’s psychotic bodyguard Gogo Yubari and finally gaining her revenge on O-Ren herself, this scene is martial arts epicness at its finest. With blood and limbs flying at every turn, and incorporating a vast range of stylized, choreographed fight exchanges, The House of Blue Leaves sequence is simply extraordinary to watch.
Kill Bill Volume 1 is one hell of a fun ride, and Tarantino truly put everything of himself as an artist into this film. And that’s why it is essential viewing for any moviegoer.