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9 July 2011

Kill Bill: Volume 1 (2003)

Copperhead: So, when do we do this?
Black Mamba: It all depends... when do you wanna die?
Talking snakes?

Of course not... Last night I watched part 1 of the Kill Bill duology. Or is it dilogy? I've got a feeling that both those words are made up. We can blame the Greeks for this... and the Americans...

Uma Therman as Black Mamba in Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax 2003
Uma Therman as Black Mamba in Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax 2003


Kill Bill is Quentin Tarantino's homage to Japanese martial arts films... and Spaghetti Westerns... and Manga... and anything else that was on Quentin's mind at the time. It's a real collage of influences and ideas. Somehow Quentin manages to mix it all together and make it work. If I was pushed, I'd probably go as far to say that these are his best films yet. In my humble opinion, this is a Quentin's tour de force.

Uma Therman likes what she sees in Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax 2003


My son's just found the DVD box and has been asking me what it's about.
"A girl with a sword. Kill Bill. Does she kill someone and get a bill for it?"

Not a bad guess! Let's see if I can explain...

So there's this gang of elite assassins called the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who all go by snake-themed codenames. And something's obviously gone wrong because they've turned on one of their own: Uma Therman (aka Black Mamba). Uma is shot and left for dead at the scene of her own wedding in a dusty old church presumably in the middle of Mexico. But get this... she survives! Cue the start of Uma's deadly campaign of revenge as she tracks down her former colleagues. All the while we get little snippets of back story, but actually Quentin doesn't reveal too much of the big picture in Volume 1; Mainly, we learn just enough to get us from from one chapter to the next.

Lucy Liu as Cottonmouth in Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax 2003


As with most Quentin Tarantino films, the cast are outstanding. There isn't a dud in the bunch. Worthy of special mention is Lucy Liu as the aloof and half-mad Cottonmouth. Her Yakuza, the Crazy 88 are the business, although to be fair, they don't look anywhere near as rough as the 5.6.7.8's; The 5.6.7.8's are the girl-band playing the surf music when Uma confronts Lucy. Legend has it that Quentin heard the band's music whilst shopping in Tokyo and just had to have them in the film. It put them on the map! And while we're talking about music, hunt down the soundtrack - you won't regret it.

David Carradine's hand in Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax 2003


David Carradine appears as Bill, or at least his hand does. Yep, this is the same David Carradine that was found dead in a Bangkok hotel in 2009 after a sex accident involving a length of rope and a shoelace. The rope was round his neck, the shoelace was around his... well, figure that bit out yourself. My only hint is that it was the rope that killed him.

Back to the film...

What is is about Japanese men and baldness? in Kill Bill Volume 1, Miramax 2003


Being essentially a martial arts film, you get some great action in Kill Bill. There's hand-to-hand, knives and guns, but the real star is the Samurai Sword. Uma looks like she was born to slice. I really enjoyed the whole chapter where she meets up with the legendary sword-maker Hattori Hanzō (played by Sonny Chiba). Apparently the whole Hattori Hanzō piece is Quentin name-dropping a popular Japanese TV show. There are a few great gags in here - a nice diversion from all the fighting.

This isn't the first time that I've seen this film, and I'm still raving about it. I seem to remember that the first time I watched it, it took close to half the film before I got used to the blood and guts. Of course, I was soft in those days. Look at me now!

On the Triple-B, I'm going to slip on my mask and join the Crazy 88. Do you reckon I'm tough enough? Hi-yah!


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