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Thursday, January 15, 2004

Kill Bill

Quentin Tarantino loves music. He likes songs. That's why his soundtracks are the best in the business. Kill Bill opens with black and white credits set to Nancy Sinatra's 'Bang Bang', all of it. Not the bit that fades in and then goes away, or the bit that gets drowned out at the end by the first dialogue, all of it. Tarantino lets the music he uses breathe, which is why it comes to be so closely associated with the film and becomes so very very popular. Little Green Bag defined Reservoir Dogs, and songs like 'Son of a Preacher Man' and 'Bustin Surfoboards' by The Surf Tornadoes (it's that instrumental surf guitar one) defined Pulp fiction. Kill Bill Chapter 1 is defined by the Nancy Sinatra song and whatever rock and roll songs the Japanese punk band were playing. They rocked.

So right from the off with it's inconic soundtrack and pulpy credits this is a Tarantino film. It's even got Uma Thurman in it, this time with natural blonde hair. The plot is pretty simple, once upon a time Thurman's nameless character was part of 'The Deadly Viper Assasination Squad', an all female assasination squad comprising protoges of the titular Bill. At some point Thurman's character got pregnant and engaged. The wedding however was interrupted by the rest of the squad who killed the whole wedding party and (they thought) the bride, their motivations are unknown. However Thurman (henceforth 'The Bride') lived and is now set on exacting a bloody revenge.

The rest of the film is fights linked together by flashbacks. The flashbacks are good, explaining the history of each of the Deadly Vipers and what has happened since the Brides' wedding. In an acknowledgement of the films comic book origins one is even produced as anime. The fights are better though, especially since guns are out and Samurai swords are in.

The pick of the bunch is the 'Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves' (it's all a bit Sergio Leone) where the Bride cuts down one by one the lieutenants of Lo Ren. There is no music, no soundtrack and the fights are all over very very quickly without acrobatics or gymnastics. The tension and drama are incredible. Then there is an absolutely enormous, heavily soundtracked fight, which is fun, but less good. Oddly enough the final outcome reminds me of the ending of Robin and Marion but there you go.

According to the website the fight choreography was by Master Yuen, who is also responsible for Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, The Matrix and a number of early Jacky Chan films. I suspect he wasn't involved in the last two Matrix films, which were ruined by laboured action sequences and a lack of imagination. This film shows just what is possible with the genre.

Kill Bill chapter one is a fantastic film if you like this kind of thing. Namely Samurai swords, stylish fights, excessive amounts of fake blood, great dialogue and a kick ass soundtrack. See it soon.

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