Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003)

DVD Cover (Miramax)
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Overall Rating 80%
Overall Rating
Ranked #58
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Connections: Kill Bill

After awakening from a four-year coma, a former assassin wreaks vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her. --IMDb
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Review by Chad
Added: February 16, 2005
Well now, we have one review on this page that proclaims this movie to be near perfection, and another that would lead you to believe that it's merely mediocre. Since I just received a copy of both films in the series courtesy of the reviewer that ranked this movie in the perfection range, I figured that I'd thrown down my opinions on this page as well.

First off, the storyline. We already have two takes on the events that transpire throughout this film plastered on this here page, so I won't bother rehashing it for a third time. The only thing that bothered me about the overall storyline was the fact that the events were shown out of order. Now, I'm familiar with director Quentin Tarantino's style of movie-making, and I also normally don't have a problem with the aforementioned non-linear sequence of events. The thing that bugged me about having it occur in this movie was the fact that it spoils the ending within the second scene of the movie. When "The Bride" hits up Vernita Green, her first target (movie-wise), we see that she's already crossed off O-Ren Ishii's name from the list... meaning, she's been killed by this point in the movie, in a scene that is the grand finale of this volume of the series. Now, I realized before popping in this DVD that there was a volume two, and with that, I was pretty sure that The Bride wouldn't die... otherwise, she'd have failed her mission and we wouldn't have much a movie to unravel in the sequel. However, it would have been nice to at least save something for the end of the movie, instead of knowing full well before the fight starts that she wins the final battle and goes on to kill the second lady (which was the first fight scene of the movie). Other than that minor gripe, the storyline did satisfy me. Things move along at a brisk pace, we have a few of those great dialog sequences that Tarantino is known for, and overall, things stay entertaining from the opening credits until the ending credits.

However, that storyline isn't what made the movie so entertaining. No sir, the credit for that would have to go to the great choreography involved during the numerous battles that we're treated to throughout the running time. Now, I'm not normally a fan of the martial arts / samurai / sword-battling style of movies, but things were done so well here that I couldn't help but be impressed. While the blood and gore found in most of these scenes are extremely over-the-top, it does nothing to hurt the film and in fact, served to make the kills that much more visually appealing. Then, we have the final battle with O-Ren Ishii that takes place outside in the snow in a scene that is eerily reminiscent of "Lady Snowblood". Quentin did a great job paying homage to that film with his final scene, but I couldn't help but feel that the final battle wasn't quite as good as the one with the maniac schoolgirl Go Go Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) that took place a few scenes before the finale. In my humble opinion, that final battle of the movie couldn't have suffered much from just a bit more work, seeings how it was the grand finale and everything.

Overall, I did have a few gripes, but nothing major. This is definitely worth the viewing if you're a fan of either martial arts films, or a fan of Quentin Tarantino's style of movies. The man manages to bring his style of film-making to a genre that I wouldn't have believed he could have pulled off, and does quite the good job in the process. I'm going to agree with Ktik's review below mine, and go with a 9/10.
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Review by sidefriction
Added: June 7, 2004
All the time I hear people claiming that the best film of the last two decades is none other than Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill: Vol. 1. Since so many people proclaim its excellence and since it is from the director of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, I decided to check it out. With a stellar cast of Lucy Lui, Uma Thurman, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, and written by a coming of age director, this movie shouldn't be half bad. As much as I hate to go against the flow of popularity, I still tend to miss what everyone feels is so genius about Kill Bill: Vol. 1.

Basic plot: The Bride (Uma Thurman) will kill the guy (Bill) who shot her and left her for dead. That's it my friends. Do not expect hidden meanings, great dialogue, extraordinary visuals, or even half the cast put to their full potential. Like with Lucy Lui's character, O-Ren Ishii. She appears only for a short while in the movie. At least it seemed fairly short. My first gripe about the movie is having no idea what's going on in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. It opens up with Uma Thurman kicking Vivica A. Fox's ass in her home. That's a tiny gripe, but I was sure lost up until they finally show "The Bride" in a coma and what exactly happened to her. Another thing I did not like about this film is its overall theme of cheesy, martial art, Bruce Lee-esque action. Everything has a Chinese-movie feeling to it. Personally, I'm not a fan of that genre of films. The only entertainment value of this movie lies in trying to find if anything important happens. The reason I kept watching it was because I kept looking for something spell bounding or something that made this "the best movie in the last two decades". But it nothing happened. Another major gripe I had is the transition the movie had from realistic people to cartoon animation. I found it irrelevant and unnecessary. It's as if Quentin wanted to look like a sophisticated director and threw in a few animated transitions in the middle of the movie.

My final gripe about Kill Bill is the lack of realism in the killings. Horror movies like Freddy vs. Jason have more realistic killing scenes than this movie. Whenever Uma Thurman would slice off someone's head (which is the most popular form of killing the 200 some people that are killed through out the movie) a large stream of THIN BRIGHT RED blood would shoot 20 FEET above the neck. Before you say, "Well how would you know if that's real or not?", think about it a bit. When you cut your finger...is the blood BRIGHT red? No. It is dark and it is thick. Secondly, since she would obviously hit jugular and vernal cava veins in the neck, the blood would indeed shoot up very high. I don't know about the height shown in the movie. But since it would be released under such pressure, the stream of blood would run out quite rapidly.

My final thoughts on the movie: I found it the least bit entertaining. My favorite scene was with Vivica A. Fox and Uma Thurman, even though I had no idea what was going on. There are too many things done wrong with this movie, making it the complete opposite of a theatrical phenomenon proclaimed by so many people. I've gone on long enough about the movie, so my final rating should be irrelevant. But I'll give the movie and the cast credit just for potential to entertain. But one thing you should pick up from this movie is that Quentin Tarantino is no where near sheer brilliance in filmmaking. Before you call me a biased bastard (I know most of you are calling me that by now) you should know that I did like Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs. Those two movies, in case you didn't know, are Quentin Tarantino's earlier movies. I'd only suggest it to you if you are a die hard fan of Quentin Tarantino or simply don't care about literal and theatrical elements in movies and go based off of eye candy. There is no special dialogue, there is no superb acting, there is no grand special effects, there is no complicated directing; there is nothing special about this movie. After seeing this film twice, I still have yet to find something original, absolutely amazing, or quite frankly entertaining. The thing that may have killed this movie for me is over-hyping. I did go in expecting a great movie. But what else can you expect when you hear that Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is the greatest movie in twenty-years?

As for a final grade...I think this merits a 4/10.
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Review by Ktik
Added: June 11, 2004
It has been said that there are only eighteen different plots in filmmaking. The true art of film, however, is delivering those plots in a different way each time. Quentin Tarantino as a director and writer has always strived to find the most intriguing parts of past films and developed them further. Kill Bill vol 1 is no exception. After challenging and conquering the heist film genre in Reservoir Dogs, and paying homage blaxploitation genre in Jackie Brown, Kill Bill vol 1 would pay homage to the kung fu movies he grew up watching.

Opening in a chilling black and white scene with a bloody woman laying on the ground, the only sound besides her whimpering is the voice of the man who is out to kill her, Bill. The dramatic scene is only intensified when the bloody figure on the ground in a bridal gown tells the man looking down on her that the baby inside of her belongs to him. She is immediately shot, and the opening credits roll.

The plot is basic, a simple revenge story, but what makes this film memorable is the way it is told. In fashion with his four other releases, Tarantino does not tell the story in a linear line. The first chapter of the film is the Bride (Uma Thurman) engaging in an altercation between the second person on her "Death List" of who to seek revenge on. Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) is just one of five people, including O-Ren Ishii, Budd, Elle Driver, and Bill, who formed the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, or DiVAS for short. Those five are the ones behind her attempted murder at the beginning of the film, and each one of them must pay by surrendering their lives.

Her journey to get her revenge is not direct. In the attempted murder at the hands of the DiVAS, she was only put into a four-year long coma. She laid in the bed for four years, being taken advantage of by a nurse named Buck (Michael Bowen) and anyone who could save up seventy-five dollars. Upon awaking, her revenge begins by killing both the man trying to have sex with her and Buck. The Bride will now be able to accomplish her goal and kill Bill.

In order to be able to take care of all five members of the DiVAS, the Bride would require a sword of the finest quality. She flies off to Okinawa, famous for its terrible sushi and the hideout of Hattori Hanzo, the owner of a thirty-year-old sushi restaurant. A perfect hiding spot for a man who doesn't want to be disturbed any longer, and who has given up on his old craft of making sword or Japanese Steel. Must to his displeasure, Hanzo makes the sword for the Bride, thus breaking his oath to never make another instrument of death again.

Tokyo is currently being run by O-Ren Ishii and her gang called the Crazy 88. O-Ren is the first name on the Bride's list, and it would prove to be a struggle to get revenge on her. The entire Crazy 88's were ordered to attack the Bride, along with crazed bodyguard Gogo Yubari, equipped with ball and chain. The Bride manages to get past all those who get in her way, and in a battle between her and O-Ren, in a snowy outdoors battle, she becomes the victor after slicing off the top of O-Ren's head.

Both Vernita Green and O-Ren Ishii, before being killed at the hands of the Bride try to make amends with her and apologize. They are too late in their pleas, as in Budd (Michael Madsen) at the end of the film admits that the Bride does deserve her revenge, and that all five of the DiVAS deserve to die.

Kill Bill vol 1 is a flashy movie without as much character development as it might have needed, but it still had plenty to get by. The O-Ren Ishii character was given a long anime background story, from her at a young age witnessing the death of her parents to her killing her first person and then becoming a hired assassin. It was a way to get around the MPAA board and get the film an R rating.

The only visible flaw within the movie is that Miramax and Tarantino willingly cut the film in half. Kill Bill vol 1 however, is able to stand on its own. Any fan of previous Tarantino films should love it just as much, and any fans of classic Japanese kung-fu movies will have a hard time finding a reason not to love Kill Bill vol 1. 9 out of 10 for this smart and edgy film.
Clarence Bodicker #1: Clarence Bodicker - added July 30, 2004 at 2:30am
The part where Uma is fighting Vivica A. Fox and they stop when the kid walks in. was awesome.
Alex P #2: Alex P - added August 3, 2004 at 10:52pm
"Do not expect hidden meanings, great dialogue, extraordinary visuals"

all the visuals were incredibly artistic are you kidding? and there were hidden meanings out the ass. her beating 5 people like the assent in the pagoda of Enter the Dragon, her yellow jump suit being like that of Bruce Lees. theres TONS of little things that mean more than you think in that movie.

and as for the blood, in case you hadnt noticed in the first 30 seconds of that sequence it was supposed to be in the style of an anime thus the super amounts of blood in a cartoon like effect.

dont hate a movie cause you dont understand all of it
Deadwired2 #3: Deadwired2 - added August 8, 2004 at 3:09am
Sidefriction, I don't know if you've heard about this, because I read it in an interview when Quentin talked about his movies. He said that he felt a real Directors role would be taking his own steps in Directing; He made the killings unrealstic for a reason. This movie wasn't meant to be a horror/thriller/action, it was meant to be his patronage to the movies he loved as a kid, the cheesey Kung-fu movies being one of those. He kept the cheese with the battles and etc., and added in the classic Tarentino dramatic monologues/dialogues along with some clever directing, plots, and such likable characters, not to mention original setting(Western and Japanese), to make for a stellar end result. I personally loved this movie.
compoundwhore #4: compoundwhore - added August 18, 2004 at 5:24am
Good movie, I need to get off my lazy ass and rent Volume 2.
Big D #5: Big D - added August 21, 2004 at 6:27pm
Quentin Tarantino does amazing fighting movies...LIKE THIS ONE.
KaOTiK #6: KaOTiK - added February 17, 2005 at 4:37am
i enjoyed the gore and blood in the film, but i'm not a huge fan of the kung fu type movies involving the japanese culture
dadarulz #7: dadarulz - added May 28, 2005 at 4:56pm
I think what sidefriction is missing is that this movie is first of all a pastiche (There are numerous references such as the Green Hornet theme), and second of all, a bit of a parody as well, hence the lack of realism. The animated part, IMO, is totally delightful and goes well with the rest of the movie since everything there is inspired by japanese cinema, either old japanese series/movie or anime. I think it's not to be taken too seriously. Quentin had a passion for japanese culture and he wanted to honor it. And I'm not saying this because I totally loved it ; I think part two is way better. I just hate it that a lot of people unfortunately watch this movie and flame it without even thinking about the influences that created it or Quentin's artistic intention.
Ginose #8: Ginose - added September 9, 2005 at 5:42pm
A great movie, even for people who aren't fans of martial arts, it creates an atomosphere of a love lost and revenge... I really liked the fact that Quentin Tarantino made it a 2 part movie. It deseves much more respect than it got.
. #9: . - added September 13, 2005 at 8:52pm
Definitely my favourite of the two.
ScarsRstarS #10: ScarsRstarS - added January 10, 2006 at 8:53am
Didnt quite understand the story to this film.
grain of sand #11: grain of sand - added December 29, 2006 at 9:31pm
I find it hilarious when people bitch and moan about the unrealistic fashion of the kills, you don't need to know much about film to realize tarantino was obviously paying homage to anime style violence and that glorifying it only made it that much more "cool"

good movie, great gore to see in an american theatre, I think this movie made a lot of directors realize that they really could and should push the violence as far as possible and still obtain an R rating.
Edd #12: Edd - added March 31, 2008 at 9:53am
The only part of this movie I liked was the fight with the Crazy 88. 2/10
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