kill bill vol.1
111 mins, R, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced, single-sided,
RSDL dual-layered (layer switch at ??), keep case packaging, The
Making of Kill Bill, Volume 1 featurette, film footage of the 5,
6, 7, 8's performing I Walk Like Jane Mansfield and I'm Blue, 6
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), animated film-themed menus
with music, scene access (19 chapters), languages: English (DD &
DTS 5.1) and French (DD 5.1), subtitles: English, English (for the
hearing impaired), Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Traditional Chinese,
The long-awaited "fourth" film from Quentin Tarantino
is an interesting one. We put fourth in quotes because, as most
of you know, it's really half of a film. As legend goes, QT's
original cut was so long (but so very good) that Harvey Weinstein
told QT to not cut a single shot and just break the film in half
and release it in two parts. So he did exactly that, and now we
have twice the stylized bloodletting. It was a matter of convenience
and had nothing to do with marketing cough-bullshit-cough. The
question then is, is the film so good that it really needed to
be two films, or is it just cinematic masturbation? To tell you
the truth, it's a little bit of both.
You see, Kill Bill, Volume 1 is the ultimate Grindhouse film,
except it's a Grindhouse film put through the grinder. It's got
exploitation and it's got cat fights and it's got Japanese sword
fighting and Dutch angles and geysers of blood and pop cultural
references and unblinking violence and music stings pulled from
some of the greatest B and Z-grade films ever made. In its simplest
form, it's a handful of bloody popcorn... every last bit of which
is delicious. This is the greatest "best of" party videotape
ever made on the subject of exploitation. About the only thing
it's missing is a sequence in a prison with butch female wardens
and violent lesbian bunkmates. But maybe that's in Volume 2.
All of that aside, Kill Bill, Volume 1 is not a perfect film.
It's not even a great one. Sure, all of it is "good"
and "fun" and "interesting" and "rousing,"
but when it's all said and done, anyone who loves the flicks that
Tarantino's cribbing from will have already seen and heard all
of this before, just with different actors and dialogue. Kill
Bill is good, and all together neat, but it's not "cinema".
It's just a really fun movie... and it seems that's really all
QT intended it to be. He's clearly having fun making a movie out
of the best bits and pieces from his own favorite movies - 70s
exploitation films, samurai epics, spaghetti westerns and the
like. God bless him for it, because he completely succeeds in
Kill Bill, Volume 1 concerns itself with a woman we only know
as The Bride, played wonderfully by Uma Thurman. On her wedding
day, she and everyone at her wedding party are slaughtered. As
she lays dying, she looks up and stares at someone who calmly
wipes the blood off her bruised and beaten face with a handkerchief
emblazoned with the name "Bill." She tells him she is
pregnant - with his baby - and he shoots her in the head.
Many years later, The Bride is lingering in a coma. She's been
locked away inside her own mind and unwittingly used as a comatose
prostitute for a foul-looking orderly. As she's about to be abused
again, she suddenly comes out of the coma, kills everyone in the
room and sets upon her new mission in life - revenge against Bill
and his dastardly crew of assassins. Things are a little bit complicated,
however. You see... The Bride at one point was part of that crew.
It seems that when she tried to quit and start a new life, Bill
and the gang didn't take too kindly to that and decided to cancel
her plans. In so doing, they only succeeded in pissing her off.
Now, she wants payback for what they took from her. She's made
a "kill" list and she's crossing the assassins' names
off it one by one. And she won't rest until she gets to the end.
Until she kills Bill.
The film is almost ungradeable in terms of review, because it's
really just a silly exploitation film. Still, it looks great and
moves at a wonderful pace. The acting is better here than in most
the films it homages. The dialogue is just as you'd expect from
Tarantino and the action is top notch. You should know right off
the bat that if you don't dig exploitation cinema, you won't dig
this. Don't come in thinking it's Pulp Fiction, Part 2 or anything
like that. This film is bloody, ultra-violent junk... but it wears
that badge with pride.
The video quality on this disc, in anamorphic-enhanced widescreen,
is quite good. It's not grade-A material, but it's not meant to
be. The film has a gritty, grainy look that's intended as part
of the style. As a result, detail is occasionally a little lacking.
But the contrast is excellent and the colors are lush and vibrant.
The surround audio, presented in both Dolby Digital and DTS, is
quite good. Most of the time, the rear channels are used for atmospheric
fill and to envelope you with the pulsing, grinding soundtrack
music. But they do kick in a little more during the action scenes
- you'll hear the blood splattering all around. For our money,
the DTS definitely gets the edge in terms of sounding fuller,
smoother and more natural, which particularly benefits the soundtrack.
The Dolby Digital mix still sounds good though, and has a slightly
more directional quality some might prefer. Either way, both tracks
support the visuals well.
In terms of extras, don't expect much and you won't get much.
It probably goes without saying that Tarantino and Miramax plan
a far more elaborate collector's edition of both Kill Bill, Volumes
1 & 2 once the second film (due on April 16th) has played
itself out in theaters. Think of this disc as Kill "light"
- a basically movie-only taste to sharpen your steel and bloody
your clothes enough to be ready for Volume 2.
What you do get here includes a 20-minute featurette on the making
of the film, performance footage (from the film) of the 5, 6,
7, 8's raging through two songs, and trailers for all of Tarantino's
other films, as well as the teaser and "bootleg" trailers
for this film and the teaser for the sequel. The featurette isn't
fluffy exactly, but it's isn't very substantial either. QT, Uma
and other cast and crew members talk about the origins of the
film, its cinematic influences and references, and how the production
went. Like we said, Kill "light". By the way, the extras
are all non-anamorphic, which is just lame and unnecessary, "light"
or not. The menus, however, are anamorphic and they're damn cool.
Kill Bill, Volume 1 on DVD (this version at least) will never
win any Bitsy Awards, but you can't ignore it either. If you're
as into genre flicks as we are, you pretty much have to have it
in your collection. Hell... any modern film that references Lady
Snowblood is a do-er in our book. The bottom line is, anyone who
discounts this film offhand is an idiot, and anyone who says it's
the greatest film they've ever seen is equally an idiot. Kill
Bill simply is what it is - a good ol' fashioned drive-in movie
that you get to watch in your own home. If you're a fan, our advice
is to buy it on sale and do just that. Yeah, you'll have to shell
out again in a year for a better version, but so what? If you're
a fan, that's easy cash on the barrel head. And if you're not
a fan, you'd probably never buy Kill Bill on disc anyway.