[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Kill Bill’: Bloodshed, and some cool outfits

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[MOVIE REVIEW]‘Kill Bill’: Bloodshed, and some cool outfits

If you can’t enjoy a bloody floor full of maimed assassins trying to squirm and crawl their way out of a nightclub, what can you enjoy? If it isn’t cool to cut a villainous lawyer’s limbs off and roll her down a hill, I ask you, what’s cool?
You understand that we’re talking about the movies. “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film ― which we know without having to count back, because the opening credits announce that it’s “the 4th film of Quentin Tarantino” ― has an absolutely insane amount of violence, but it’s got the same relationship to real violence that a luxury car commercial has to real driving. Magic is made of it. It’s made to seem sensual, even transcendent. (A bit of bloodshed was excised at the behest of Korea’s Media Ratings Board; considering what remains, it must have really been something.)
For a movie that approaches the sickening feeling that actual violence induces in the actual world, try renting “Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.” Like Mr. Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs,” “Kill Bill” isn’t really about violence at all; it’s about movie violence. When Uma Thurman is dismembering people, the point isn’t that she’s dismembering people ― the point is how great she looks doing it in a canary-yellow motorcycle suit. You can imagine Mr. Tarantino raving at great, hyperactive length about how cool that motorcycle suit is. He’s probably doing it right now on “The Charlie Rose Show.”
I’m sure I missed 98 percent of Mr. Tarantino’s movie-geek references this time out, but among the general influences are Japanese anime, kung-fu movies, Westerns and the 1970s U.S. TV show “Kung Fu,” which was a kung-fu Western (that show’s star, David Carradine, is the titular Bill). A lonesome Spanish guitar appears on the soundtrack, and so does a 1970s-blaxploitation-movie “whocka-chocka” guitar. The whole thing is a colorful, if shallow, cross-cultural pastiche. (A surprising amount of dialogue is in Japanese, and the Korean theatrical release doesn’t subtitle these scenes in English, so I guess it’s possible that I missed the point of the movie entirely.)
“Kill Bill” wasn’t originally intended to be released in “volumes,” but supposedly Harvey Weinstein at Miramax thought we wouldn’t sit through it at full length (“Vol. 2” is slated for next year). Presumably for this reason, “Vol. 1” doesn’t have a story so much as a situation: Uma Thurman seeking vengeance on the assassins who murdered everybody at her wedding. That’s about all there is to it; the rest is details. But as in Mr. Tarantino’s other films, the details ― the sheer, on-the-surface sensuality of moviemaking ― are the point. His movies are about how much he loves movies, and they’re violent because violent movies are the movies he happened to fall in love with.


by David Moll
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