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:: Kill Bill Vol.1

At the start of Kill Bill the credits inform us that this is the fourth film by Quentin Tarantino, in case we’d lost track, or were confused by the many imitators he’d spawned with Pulp Fiction. Or perhaps he was worried we’d forgotten him after the long delay between Jackie Brown and the first instalment of Kill Bill.

Uma Thurman plays a woman known as The Bride, or Black Mambo, bent on taking revenge on the people who left her and her unborn baby for dead on her wedding day. Why they did this is presumably explained in Kill Bill Volume 2. The rest of the film is one fight scene after another, getting bloodier and bloodier as they go. But this is over the top blood - meant to be laughed at. Tarantino is winking at his audience as arms and heads fly with jets of bright red blood spurting all over the screen – “Look what I can do”, he’s saying.

Unlike the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Kill Bill was not originally envisioned as a two-part film. Nothing much in terms of plot or character really happens in part one and the ending is more the type of ending you’d expect of a TV show that knows you’re going to tune in next week, not three months from now when the second instalment is released. As a result it’s not entirely satisfying. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts. There’s a fabulous Japanese anime sequence that details the backstory of Lucy Liu’s character, O-ren Ishii, queen of the Japanese Underworld, a Charlie’s Angel gone bad. There are some great fight moments, but even though Uma Thurman may be dressed like Bruce Lee in her yellow outfit, she’s no master of Kung Fu and must resort to hidden wires to achieve what Jackie Chan could do all on his own.

Kill Bill will undoubtedly be compared to Pulp Fiction and though the two borrow endlessly from seventies television, style and music, that’s where the similarity ends. Bill is practically dialogue free compared to Pulp, and there’s no lovable rogue character whose violence is forgiven because they make it so funny. Everybody just gets down to business, with whatever weapon is at hand.

The ending shows the audience what’s coming up. We’ve only just glimpsed a one-eyed Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, and we haven’t even seen the face of the eponymous Bill. But we know what they’re in for. This would have been much better as one film. There was certainly a lot of room in the some of the scenes for some judicious editing. Now Tarantino will have to build up the pace and tension all over again in Volume 2.