Hey folks, Harry here... What we have here is some serious spoiler looks at KILL BILL VOL 1. Now, the thing about KILL BILL spoilers is this... the script has been floating around online for about a year now, so spoiler junkies have pretty much the entire damn thing in their noggins, and frankly - I'm of the opinion that the only thing that will ruin this film for anyone is pretension that one may bring into the theater with them. Having said that, the first review that Moriarty posted gets critical regarding the "little plot" and "little dialogue" in Volume One, even while complementing the action, style and look of the film. He doesn't criticize the acting or the dialogue that is there or the plot that is there, only that he wanted more. Well, this is what I'm afraid is going to happen with KILL BILL VOL. 1 and VOL. 2. The first film is a shot of pure adrenaline. The second - based on the script - is emotionally a far more brutal film. That second film is where the best moments between characters come, the twists and the hardcore emotional content. I'm afraid that there will be an issue of people that love Quentin previous films being a bit let down by the lack of his trademark work, in favor of his evolved action stylings and spectacle and dismiss the second part. Meanwhile the hardcore action geeks will fall 7 ways to Sunday in love with the first part and be ungodly pumped for the second which they'll believe to be even more hardcore, only to discover this emotional flick that... well takes them on a journey they most likely won't be expecting. We'll see how this plays out, but from these two reviews, I'd say... KILL BILL VOL 1 fucking delivers in spades and dude... October has never seemed this far away from August before!
OK, Harry, here's how it went down.
About a week ago, my girlfriend went to see Pirates of the Carribean at the Boston Common theater when a Miramax rep asked if she'd be interested in going to a test screening for an upcoming Miramax release. Knowing her boy to be a movie geek, she asked what it was for.
"Quentin Tarantino's next film, 'Kill Bill'"
Fast forward to last night. We got to the Landmark Theater in Kendall Square about an hour before they were letting people in and hung out with the crowd. They were screening it for men and women ages 18-39. We all filled out the obligatory card saying we weren't associated with the film industry, and that we wouldn't review it either in print or online. I'm going to break what I agreed to for this simple reason: People need to know now how much "Kill Bill: Volume One" will stick two fingers in their ass and fucking rock them in October.
At 7:30, the man himself, Quentin Tarantino, greeted with wall-shaking applause and sporting a Battle Royale t-shirt, addressed the crowd. He said that since this cut was made, he's done a few more cuts and he's happy with how it is now. He then sat, how fucking great is this, right near me in the fucking audience. Now, I gotsta warn you, this is one o' them spoiler reviews.
The flick opens with the "Shaw-Scope" logo of the great martial arts films of the 70s, backed up by, what sounds like, porn music.
Uma, in black and white, beaten and bloody, is staring past the camera. She looks in agony. A hand wipes blood off her face with a handkerchief with the name "Bill" on it. The voice of David Carradine is telling her shit about how he's sorry but she had this coming. "You must think me sadistic," he says. "Well, get ready to see me at my most sadistic." A gun is brought to her head. Before Uma can get her last dying words out BLAM. Shot with the brutality of a snuff film.
Now, in color, it's years later and Uma's at some suburban home. When Vivica A Fox answers the door, the music starts. Now, not just any music. As most of you already know, this movie is about Uma getting revenge against the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (Darryl Hannah, Lucy Liu, Vivica A Fox, and Michael Madsen. And, of course, their leader, Bill) who beat and shot her and left her for dead. When Uma sets her eyes on one of these villains, this amazing, 70s wakka-cha-wakka via the synthesizers cranks up. RZA did the music for this, and godammit if his soundtrack didn't rattle my balls. With a brassy sound that would make James Brown come. I want this soundtrack the second it comes out so I can listen to it all day. The kinda music that puts a slide in your stride and a dip in your hip.
Anyhoo, a fight breaks out between the two. Now, despite the fact the Yuen Wo-Ping is credited as the Martial Arts Advisor in this film, do not expect "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." There is no beauty to the violence in this. It's as if Quentin realized that too many films joined the bandwagon of showing martial arts as this beautiful dance number and forgot that it also entails two or more trained warriors going at it with edged weapons. Brutal, brutal stuff. Thank god we all got to see it before the MPAA does the dirty things it does to it.
So, their fight ends when Vivica's young daughter comes home from school. They go into the kitchen for coffee and talk about when they did to Uma four years ago. Vivica, while pouring cereal for her daughter, takes a shot at Uma with a gun she concealed in the cereal box and Uma finishes her with a throwing knife. Unfortunately, her daughter witnesses this to which Uma says, "If you're still sore from this years from now, I'll be waiting." Uma leaves, hopping into her bright yellow tricked-out truck with the PUSSY WAGON painted on the back, and crosses Vivica's name (Copperhead) off a list. Already crossed out is "Cottonmouth".
We're then shown Texas, four years ago. The guy who played the sheriff in the opening scene from "From Dusk Til Dawn" is responding to to a mass homicide at a church, where Uma, along with a minister, some guests, and her future husband, are lying in pools of blood. Despite shot in the head, Uma lives on.
She's now comatose in a hospital, and Daryl Hannah is dispatched to off her. She wears an eyepatch and, as she disguises herself as a nurse, she puts on a white eyepatch with the Red Cross on it. Seconds from injecting her with poison, Bill calls to intervene. He feels it's dishonorable to kill her in her sleep. If she is ever to wake...that's a different story. However, being comatose ain't too good. An orderly is pimping her out at $75 bucks a fuck and you get the idea he's been doing it for a while now. Uma wakes up, and fucks up both the orderly/pimp and the john, and crawls out, taking the orderly's keys. This, my friends, is how she got Pussy Wagon.
One problem: entropy. Her legs ain't working. So as she sits in Pussy Wagon and tries to will her big toe to wiggle (Genius stuff), we are treated to the anime origin of Lucy Liu's character, "Cottonmouth". Quentin, after the screening, said it was done by the studio that did "Ghost in the Shell", though the style looks like a cross between "Blood: The Last Vampire" and "Aeon Flux". See, Lucy was the army brat daughter of a mixed race parentage. One Chinese, one japanese. When a Yakuza ganglord kills her mother and father with her in the room, she gets revenge and becomes the most feared assassin in Tokyo. End flashback, back to Uma trying to wiggle that toe.
So off to Okinawa for Uma as she meets Sonny Chiba. It's great to see Sonny Chiba (Last I saw him was the awe-inspiring Storm Riders, a great movie that my old scumbag manager at a video store got me into) back in a flick, and he's brilliant as a retired samurai swordsman, now running a restaurant with his friend. Uma persuades him to make her a sword, as she tells him it will be used to defeat an old pupil of his. Sonny knows she means Bill, and creates for her the greatest sword he's ever crafted. "If God stands in your way...than God shall be cut," he says. Now it's off to Tokyo, to deal with Lucy and her henchmen.
If the movie wasn't violent enough already, this is where it gets gruesome. In what felt like a thirty-minute fight, Uma takes on Lucy's Crazy 88 fighters, her bodyguard GoGo (the girl from Battle Royale with the fucked-up nose), and then about 50 more guys. This is the fight that's shown the most footage of in the trailer. Arms, feet, heads, hands...everything gets hacked off in this fight. This is the one that will give the MPAA a stroke. Now, I've seen some fucked up shit in my day, but this takes the cake. Arguably the most violent fight seen I've seen in a film, animated or live-action. Blood sprays, people scream in pain. No person gets stabbed or slashed and falls dead. Everyone feels what just happened to them. In one grotesquely comic bit, Lucy's assistant (played by Julie Dreyfus, a French actress who looks like the clone of Monica Bellucci and Kristen Davis) has her arm hacked off and continues, for the rest of the battle, to squirm around on the floor as blood gushes. This all culminates as Lucy and Uma go at it samurai style in a snow covered Japanese garden, where Lucy is scalped, and falls dead.
Kristen Bellucci-clone is tortured (Bye, Arm #2!), interrogated, and dropped off at a hospital by Uma. She is left alive to tell Bill what she told Uma. As Uma says, she want Bill to know what she knows. And she wants Bill to know that she knows what Bill knows she knows.
Cut to black. Volume one is over.
All in all, incredible film. Truly incredible. Not his best film, I gotta give that to "Reservoir Dogs", but without a doubt it's now my favorite movie of his. It has a level of violence not seen in cinemas in ages. A little light in the story department, but that's OK. It works for this. This is a movie you watch for the action and the Tarantino-cool, not for the story craftsmanship. After the screening, Quentin and RZA were shaking hands and thanking everyone who came by. He said Volume 1 is due for October, and Volume 2 in January. I told him that this movie taught me how to love again. I don't know what in the fuck that means, but I was too blown away by what I'd just seen to find a clever way to say "thank you" and "congratulations".