Kill Bill: Volume
Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Michael
Madsen, David Carradine, Sonny Chiba
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Date: April 13, 2004
Review posted: April 20, 2004
Four years after
taking a bullet in the heat at her own wedding, The Bride
(Thurman) awakens from a coma and decides it's time for paypack...
with a vengeance! Having been gunned down by her former boss
(Carradine) and his deadly squad of international assassins, it's
a kill-or-be-killed fight she didn't start but is determined to
For reasons unknown,
I didn't see Kill Bill: Vol. 1 in theaters, and I'm sure
the experience of watching it in an auditorium is much grander
than in one's living room, but regardless of that I thoroughly
enjoyed Quentin Tarantino's first new film in seven years. What
makes the film enjoyable, as well as rewarding and visually
exciting, is its hardcore violence, which seems more gratuitous
than for harsh effect, signature Tarantino dialogue, its story and
theme of revenge, the action, and acting by all the principals.
In true Tarantino
fashion, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 tells its story in present time
and through flashbacks, as well as taking place in multiple
locations, including gorgeous-looking Hong Kong. Fused with
influences ranging from Sergio Leone to the old kung-fu films,
Tarantino and cinematographer Robert Richardson give the film as
flashy, Western-like look. This is also helped by Sally Menke's
proficient editing job.
Fight sequences, as advised by Yuen
Woo-Ping, are hardcore and photographed with great visual sense.
The prime example is the film's extended climax at the House of
Blue Leaves, a roughly 20-minute sequence with The Bride fighting
through a barrage of bodyguards before taking on O-Ren Ishi (Lucy
Liu), one of the Viper Squad assassins. Supporting performances
are all good, mainly Vivica A. Fox and Daryl Hannah who make fine
impressions as the other assassins. Michael Madsen and David
Carradine don't turn up in here, however both Sonny Chiba and
Gordon Liu make delightful appearances as Hattori Hanzo and Crazy
88 member, respectively.
Originally one film,
only half of the story appears in Volume 1, but it's
interesting to follow The Bride on her mission of revenge. While
she only completes half of it by the end of this film, the film
carries enough story for Uma Thurman to hold a commanding screen
presence. The film does not end with "to be continued," which was
the right move by Tarantino, it ends with a shot of The Bride's
kill list, an enticing way to get the viewer to want to see Volume
Miramax presents Kill Bill in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen.
Colors are bright, crisp, and smooth. Dark tones and black
levels are appropriately deep, while the print image looks very
nice. Image quality is pretty good despite bits of grain and
several tiny flaws. Overall, a really nice visual presentation.
Miramax presents Kill Bill in English 5.1 Dolby Surround Sound.
Sound effects are nicely reinforced by the surrounds, and the
rear speakers emit audio with good force and balance. Dialogue
is clear and easy to understand, and the music is very loud as
it should be. The front speakers do a terrific job, and overall
this presentation is pretty good.
I wasn't able to
test the 5.1 DTS Digital Surround track, but I'm sure it's
at least just as good as the DD track. A French dub is available.
substantial bonus material here is The Making of Kill Bill
Vol. 1 (22:05), a documentary filled with interviews,
film clips, and behind-the-scenes footage. It reveals some nice
tidbits and stories from the production. The topics the docu
covers are of interest, but they're not very in-depth.
Next is about six
minutes worth of bonus musical numbers by The 5, 6, 7, 8's,
the band featured in Chapter Five of the film. They perform the
songs "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield" and "I'm Blue." I didn't get
anything out of this. Rounding out the extras, sad to say, are a
number of Tarantino trailers, including Reservoir Dogs,
Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 1
teaser, Kill Bill Vol. 1 bootleg trailer, and Kill
Bill Vol. 2 teaser.
4-page insert lists scene selections, specifications for the
special editions of Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown,
and an article called "'Bill' The Killer Thriller" by Andy Klein
of Citybeat. A second insert is included, featuring pictures of
Kill Bill action figures and various items associated
with the film, including Pussy Wagon keychains, lighters, tin
lunchboxes, shooters, and flasks.
111-minute feature is organized into nineteen chapters.
The disc comes in an Amaray keepcase.
Kill Bill: Vol. 1
marks a welcome and exciting return for Tarantino, the director
delivers action, humor, and thrills. It's pretty violent, and I think
it's mainly gratuitous, but the revenge plot, the script, and the
acting are what really propel the film. Video/audio quality is very
good, but the abundance of extras, despite a semi-interesting
making-of, is disappointing. Therefore, this disc comes only
recommended. A special edition will come out eventually.
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