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Assassin team member Black Mamba now known as The Bride (Uma Thurman), comes out of a four year coma following the ambush and massacre of her entire wedding party by her colleagues. She was pregnant but left for dead. Intent on revenge, one by one she tracks down her former colleagues, of the elite DiVAS (Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), each codenamed for a different species of poisonous snake – planning to leave the leader, Bill (David Carradine) to last. First, she heads for Pasadena to clash with Vernita Green, codenamed Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox). On her way to Tokyo for a confrontation with O’Ren-Ishii or Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu), The Bride stops in Okinawa to acquire a handmade new sword from master swordmaker Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba). In Volume 2, The Bride continues her journey of vengeance.

Review by Louise Keller:
With its eclectic use of music and inventive mix of genres, Kill Bill is a striking and enigmatic revenge film visually and culturally rich and relentless in its action. Of course the big controversy lies not so much that the violence comprises an abundance of decapitations with gushes of blood, but by the fact that Quentin Tarantino’s much awaited fourth film has been made in two volumes. Eventually, of course, when both Volume 1 and Volume 2 have been released on DVD, we will be able to view them in tandem.

Surprisingly, even though the narrative relies on the second volume to complete its dramatic arc (unlike other split up films such as The Matrix which are complete within the three acts of each film), Kill Bill never feels as though it is out on a limb (pun intended), but draws us like a magnet as we follow The Bride in her relentless quest to Kill All. A melee of genres including Spaghetti Westerns, Asian action and anime, the most surprising element is the strong and highly effective use of music. 

And even though we don’t get to know very much about Uma Thurman’s character other than she is motivated by revenge, what we see is riveting, as the leggy, lithe modern-day screen goddess slashes, thrashes and shows no mercy through frenzied swordplay and creatively choreographed sequences using wire work, acrobatics and aggressive body language. Thurman holds her our attention all the way and it is hard to imagine a finer choice for this ‘yellow-haired warrior’. Even more remarkable is the fact that Thurman started work on Kill Bill two months after the birth of her second child; looking less like a new mother would be hard to imagine. 

But while we may lack information about the actual characters, we do know that they live by a code of ethics and The Bride offers each Viper a choice of weapons, a formality to the subsequent duel which has a certain nobility. There’s a brutal anime sequence which rains buckets of blood, that recounts O’Ren-Ishii’s backstory, but the highlight is the lengthy Tokyo bar scene with its exotically choreographed fight sequences of a classic samurai sword battle between The Bride and the Crazy 88 fighters, which acts as a precursor to the final confrontation between The Bride and Lucy Liu’s O’Ren-Ishii. 

Set in a dreamy Japanese snow garden, Thurman dressed in blood-stained bright yellow tracksuit faces Lucy Liu’s icy assassin clad in ceremonial white kimono: the showdown takes place amid gently floating snowflakes, allowing the bright red splash of blood maximum effect. Liu is fabulous and makes every second count. We don’t get to see much of Bill in this first volume, but we do see his monogrammed white handkerchief in black and white in the opening frames, when he wipes blood from The Bride’s face, murmuring ‘Do you think I’m sadistic?’ Tarantino takes us from black and white to colour in a blink of an eye, and challenges his actors to not only perform incredulous feats but also to speak in Japanese. There is no lack of imagination in Kill Bill, and while some may grumble at the two part instalments, Tarantino has shown a leap of courage to bring together in harmony elements that should, by rights, live far apart.

If you’re interested in how the project was born, you’ll be glued to the Making Of Feature, in which Tarantino and Thurman (in separate interviews) talk about their first talks about Kill Bill, ten years earlier. They talked about ‘a revenge movie about an assassin, who tries to leave the business and get married.’ ‘He couldn’t have written me a more challenging part,’ says Uma Thurman. ‘She’s (The Bride) hard-bitten, heart-broken, and somewhat lean, mean killing machine.’ It may be a fairly standard featurette, but it’s well edited and put together, with each cast member talking about the characters. There is also a music video plus teaser trailer and bootleg trailer. 

Published April 15, 2004

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CAST: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Liu, Michael Jai White, Chia Hui Liu, Chiaki Kuriyama, Sonny Chiba, Samuel L. Jackson

DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino

SCRIPT: Quentin Tarantino

RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen; aspect ratio 2.35:1 ; Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS

SPECIAL FEATURES: The Making of Kill Bill ; Music Clips: 5, 6, 7, 8's Perform "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield" and "I'm Blue"; Tarantino Trailers


DVD RELEASE: April 14, 2004

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