Kill Bill: Volume 1

Released:  2003

Cast:  Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Julie Dreyfus, Sonny Chiba, Chiaki Kuriyama, Gordon Liu

Oscar Nominations:  Best Actress (Uma Thurman), Best Editing (Sally Menke), Best Film Music (RZA), Best Sound (Michael Minkler, Myron Nettinga, Wylie Stateman, Mark Ulano), Best Visual Effects (Tommy Tom, Kia Kwan, Tam Wai, Kit Leung, Jaco Wong, Hin Leung)

SUMMARY:  At a church in El Paso, a woman in a wedding dress, known only as The Bride (Uma Thurman) lies gravely wounded on the floor.  She and the rest of the wedding party have been attacked by the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, led by a man named Bill (of which the Bride was previously a part); the Bride is the only survivor.  She tells their leader, Bill, that the baby she is carrying is his, but he shoots her before she can finish the sentence.  When the massacre is discovered, the Bride is alive but in a coma, and is taken to the hospital.  There, another member of the Deadly Vipers arrives to finish her off, but Bill calls the job off at the last second, saying that she should not be killed when she cannot defend herself.  The Bride’s coma lasts for four years, after which she abruptly wakes up (and realizes she is no longer pregnant).  She discovers that a hospital worker has been sexually assaulting her during her coma, and letting others do so, as well.  She kills him, then takes his truck keys.  However, the coma has caused her leg muscles to atrophy, and she cannot walk.  She manages to make her way to the man’s car, and haul herself in.  She then begins to teach herself to use her legs again, beginning with wiggling her big toe.  Thirteen hours later, she is able to walk again.  She decides to take her revenge on Bill and the other members of the Deadly Vipers.

She begins with Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), who is now living as a suburban housewife with a young daughter.  The Bride and Vernita get into a vicious knife fight that destroys most of Vernita’s house; when Vernita’s daughter comes home from school, they pause and pretend to be friends.  The two women agree to meet later that night and finish the fight, but Vernita attempts to shoot the Bride using a gun disguised by a cereal box.  She misses, and the Bride throws her knife and kills Vernita.  The Bride then travels to Okinawa, where she meets famed sword maker Hattori Hanzo.  Though he has retired from sword-making, the man agrees to make one for her when he learns that she is going after his former pupil (Bill).   After receiving her weapon, the Bride travels to Tokyo to find O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), another former Deadly Viper.  As a child in Japan, Ishii witnesses the murder of her parents by the Yakuza.  Ishii trains as an assassin, and eventually kills the Yakuza boss, becoming the new leader herself.  She rules with an iron fist, killing anyone who questions her authority.  The Bride finds Ishii at a restaurant in Tokyo, where she is heavily defended by both a personal bodyguard (Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama)) and a private army (the Crazy 88).  The Bride is able to defeat both Gogo and the Crazy 88, then takes on Ishii.  They fight in the garden of the restaurant; the Bride is gravely injured, but manages to kill Ishii.  She leaves Ishii’s assistant (and another protégé of Bill’s) Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus) alive, and sends a message back to Bill through her.  At the end of the film, Bill asks Sofie if the Bride is aware that her daughter is alive.

MY TAKE:  This movie is a lot like Quentin Tarantino’s earlier movie, Pulp Fiction, in that it’s told out of sequence and is full of blood.  The plot itself is fairly interesting, and it’s easier to follow than Pulp Fiction.  However, it gets overshadowed by the violence and amount of gushing blood.  Frequently, a limb gets chopped off and the person’s body starts spraying like a volcano.  It’s gross to start with, but it gets really old by the end of the movie, when the shock value is diminished.  It’s also really unrealistic, which is tiring.  A lot of the fighting is also stylized, particularly the limb-chopping.  I don’t know how sharp that sword of hers is, but it seems unlikely that the Bride could take off an arm, leg or head with one easy swipe.  The one that really got me, though, is when she chops off Sofie’s leg (and possibly her arm, I couldn’t tell for sure), and the woman somehow survives without any kind of tourniquet or bandage being applied.  Pretty sure that with the femoral artery being severed, she would have bled out really quickly.

RATING:  Too much blood; eclipses (drowns out?) the plot.

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