The Screening Room

kill bill 


By Bill Kallay

I can't be counted among the Tarantino faithful. I don't recite dialogue from his films. The characters in his films aren't people I'd like to hang around with. I think he's a bit to much into violence for my taste. Though I probably haven't seen nearly as many films as he has, his films seem like they borrow heavily from the icons of his video store clerk days. His films are well made, but they're so often dark and violent that I can't see past the blood & gore to see what Tarantino's trying say. That's not to say I don't enjoy some of over-the-top movies. I think Tarantino is a good study on cinema and he writes screenplays that are clever with colorful characters and wicked dialogue. That's what makes the "Kill Bill" films so entertaining. They're not classics, but they're sure a lot of fun if you can stomach the blood & gore.

The "Kill Bill" films are an ode to all things martial arts cinema. Most martial arts films that I've seen are poorly made and so outrageous that I laugh out loud. Tarantino's love letter to Hong Kong cinema is well and above those films in its storyline and execution. He's taken the outrageous and fun of chops and kicks and made them better in these films. If you understand and appreciate the silliness of those low budget flicks, you can appreciate what Tarantino has done here.

Uma Thurman is "The Bride," an innocent looking young woman who can kill you ten times you before you hit the ground. But she's a killer with a heart and conscience who was left for dead by Bill (David Carradine) and his band of assassins. After awaking from a deep coma, she's out for revenge.

As simplistic as the plot is, and it is simplistic, Tarantino and Thurman have written a complex movie which delves into the psychology of "The Bride" and her assassins. Both volumes of "Kill Bill" are interesting studies on the mind of these killers. "The Bride" isn't innocent herself, but the audience empathizes with her and roots for her to even the score.

"Kill Bill: Volume 1" is the most fun and violent of the two films. I saw the film theatrically in 2003 and was repulsed by the excessive gore, yet still enjoyed the film a lot. The same holds true for the Blu-ray release. It's bloody good in high-def. The action sequences, which are never-ending in this volume, are over-the-top and brings a smile to one's face. Thurman kicks some booty and then some. She shows strength, weakness and fear in many of the sequences. As good as she is in killing her enemies, she shows that she has human frailties.

"Kill Bill Volume 2" is known as the less violent and less action oriented of the two films. Though I was bored by some of the sequel, it still has some wonderfully acted moments. Tarantino and Thurman, I dare say, even tug at the heart strings. 

Thurman really kicks it into high gear with her performance in both films. She goes from sweetness to bitterness in the blink of an eye. Her performance is strong and it's surprising that she wasn't nominated for an Oscar. Violence aside, she shows so many nuances throughout the two films that she gives Meryl Streep's versatility a run for its money.

The entire cast gives the film its nasty and violent edge. David Carradine elicits a scary and calm demeanor that on one level you could trust the guy with your life, then the next, fear for it. It's difficult to create a good villain for a movie, let alone create a villain who is scary and likable. Carradine's character is killer in this film.

The Blu-ray discs of the two films are exceptional. The picture is filmic and maintains Robert Richardson's occasionally grainy scenes. The colors are muted to bright, just like Richardson shot. One surprising aspect about "Kill Bill" is that both Tarantino and Richardson didn't shoot the film anamorphically. The opening credits have an homage to the cheap anamorphic ShawScope used on many martial arts films of the 1960s, yet the "Kill Bill" films were shot in Super 35. That aside, the picture still looks great. The soundtrack is very good, and surprisingly, the Dolby Digital track is very good. On many Blu-ray discs, the Dolby Digital track (playing at 640kbps) doesn't sound much better regular DVD Dolby Digital tracks (playing at 448kbps). Disney is usually very good with their sound, and these discs are no exception.

Is "Kill Bill" violent? No doubt about it. Is "Kill Bill" worth getting in both volumes on Blu-ray? Depends on your tolerance for blood and mayhem. I don't like ultra violence, but I still enjoyed "Kill Bill: Volumes 1 & 2."                 
Special thanks to Lindsey Carlin/Cohen & Wolf
Photos: © WDSHE. All rights reserved.

Ready for a little ultra violence?

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Darryl Hannah, Gordon Liu   

"Making Of," musical performances


Picture: Excellent
Sound: Excellent

Aspect Ratio (2.39:1)

5.1 Uncompressed PCM
Dolby Digital 5.1 (international tracks)
Dolby Digital 2.0

September 9, 2008

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