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Saturday, March 1, 2003

Kill Bill: Volume One (****)


I wish Go Go made it through. I knew she wouldn't; I knew even though she was swinging that mace on a chain like a champ and cleaning Uma Thurman's clock - I knew she wasn't going to make it. I knew she was evil, insane. I knew from her profile she was no where near as pretty as she seemed head on. Still. I'll always remember Go Go. I liked her the best. Even more than Uma, and I liked her a whole lotta lot.
Long before I bought my ticket to see Kill Bill: Volume One I knew the critics had already seen it and made their heady and breathless declarations. "The Most Violent Movie Ever Made!" "The Movie Quentin Tarantino Fans Have Been Waiting For!" There's no point playing that game. There's no point trying to neatly package my multitude of reactions to Kill Bill in a easily digestible quote or sound byte, 'specially since no one is quoting me anyway (and thank the Lord for that.)
What is there to say? Where to even start with the praise?
How about at the beginning? Right when the picture started I could hear the hampsters running in the circles of the minds of the film students present in the theater. I could feel them already searching for ways they can steal from what they're seeing. I'm already shuddering at the number of stylistic rips underway.
But isn't that what Quentin did? Didn't he just shamelessly steal from a bunch of other movies (kung fu, grind house, westerns, etc. as the critics have already pointed out with the help of their press releases)? Yes.
But you know what else Quentin did? He took all these aspects of all the various forms of cinema that he loves, he took them and then he - wait for it! - he made them his own. Whoa. How'd that go again? He made them his own. He fused his personality, his exuberance, his humor, and his style with his love of movies and what we got is Kill Bill, a motion picture experience a lot like movies many of us have seen before, but unique in it's own way. Uniquely Quentin. (I don't know the man - only saw him on the street once - but I hope he doesn't mind me calling him by his first name. He seems like he wouldn't.)
Quentin had me right from the get go. "Revenge is a dish best served cold" - Old Klingon Proverb. I was sold.
The movie unfolded with that awesome confidence Quentin has, that confidence that he knows what he's doing and he's sharing what he knows with the way a magician wows us with tricks, and it's so much fun because we don't know what he'll do next. The broad daylight fight with Vivica A. Fox in her house. The unexpected gunshot from the cereal box. How Uma, no stranger to the burning need for vengeance, let Vivica's daughter know she would be welcome to come calling if she so felt the urge. And then from there, the bloody door-meets-head revenge sequence in the hospital, Uma in the Pussy Wagon willing her legs back to life, Lucy Liu's fantastic anime origin, Sonny Chiba the swordmaker in Okinawa not being what he first appeared to be, and then the bravura showdown in Tokyo with Lucy Liu and her endless rain of assassins, and all that blood. Oh, and that tip of the hat to Connor MacLeod vs. The Kurgan in Highlander really made me smile.
In a way, I felt bad for Lucy Liu. She is the boss of bosses, the woman who rules all crime in Tokyo. We see her enter the House of Blue Leaves at the height of her power. Surrounded by her bodyguards and lieutenants, she is untouchable, invincible. She doesn't know the woman in the yellow biker leather at the bar is here to bring it all to a blood-soaked end, her empire and then her life, in that order. How did Lucy Liu feel as she watched her inner circle be literally cut down by Uma's katana in pieces one by one? Did she turn her back and leave the room because she couldn't face what she was seeing? She knew then that she made a mistake four years ago, and isn't it always the way that it's the little mistakes that come back to ruin you when you least expect it? She got what she deserved, but still, she lost it all so quickly. Made me kind of sad for a minute. Maybe the snowfall and the night scenery and the music during that final swordfight with Uma had something to do with it too.
It's easier to review the audience than it is to review Kill Bill, and I'm not one to shy away from something easy, so here goes: You film school fucks (you know who you are) don't know what the fuck you're talking about. You sleep through the classes your parents paid for and put in your four years of self-indulgent mediocrity, after which the lucky among you will have the glamorous job of guarding the catering on someone else's self-indulgent, mediocre independent film, and you have the gall to barf up derogatory appraisals of something like Kill Bill? If you ever met Quentin Tarantino, you'd be on the floor licking his balls. The rest of you, the ones who thought the movie "kicked ass", you're on the right track. I'm with you fellas.
Best movie ever? No. But it's pretty fucking great for what it is. And there's a whole second half to go. There's still Bill to kill.
Go Go. Come back, Go Go. We hardly knew you.

As for Kill Bill: Volume Two, I'd have liked it a lot more if Bill had managed to shut the fuck up for five minutes.
Bill: Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
Shut up!