‘Kill Bill’ is a breath of fresh air

Ted Pigeon

As the years go by and technology improves, action films are becoming less genuine. Blue screens are replacing real sets and climactic duels no longer require actual people since they can be generated on a computer. Though some of these effects-happy movies deliver good entertainment, something is being lost in the midst of it. And flying in the face of it all is Quentin Tarantino, whose latest film, “Kill Bill,” is a film that doesn’t rely on visual effects as a crutch to deliver good action, but rather gives us the real thing. It is the work of a master filmmaker who clearly loves movies and cares about his own craft as a filmmaker, something rarely seen among the younger filmmakers of today.

We are shown only certain bits of characters and story elements that will be brought to life in Volume 2, which will be released early next February. The central character is known as “The Bride,” who is played by Uma Thurman. We know little about her, other than the fact that on her wedding night she was brutally beaten and left for dead by a man named Bill and a few of his associates. Several years after the incident, The Bride awakens from a coma and when she finally recovers, she vows revenge against those responsible, primarily Bill. So she goes on a journey to take out each one of her four assailants one by one. The first on her list is O-Ren, played by Lucy Liu, and therefore, The Bride travels to Tokyo to find her. “Kill Bill” is essentially a highly stylized homage to Hong Kong movies, full of color, action, gore and pizzazz. It is Tarantino’s fourth film as a director, and his first real endeavor in the realm of action pictures. His goal with this film is not to tell a complicated story, but to instead, deliver sensational action in the form of his seemingly favorite style, martial arts. Sure enough, he has woven together an altogether brilliant film full of energy and style with a myriad of severed limbs and an incredible amount of blood.

The highlight of “Kill Bill” is unquestionably the giant fight sequence at the end that pits the Bride against O-Ren’s “Crazy 88” posse, which consists of (you guessed it) 88 swordsman. During the showdown, limbs are flailing all across the room, and the floor is quickly coated with blood as The Bride slices and dices her way through O-Ren’s henchmen. It is a virtuoso sequence with amazing fight choreography, and while watching, it’s hard not to draw the parallels between this and the dazzling scene in “The Matrix Reloaded” in which Neo fights nearly a hundred Agent Smiths. Both sequences feature amazing choreography and stem from the same concept. However, the major difference is the execution. While the scene in “Reloaded” relies on computer generated effects to do most of the work, the scene in “Kill Bill” is arguably more effective because it is dependent more on shot design and filmmaking physique, making it all the more awe-inspiring and authentic.  From a stylistic perspective, “Kill Bill” excels. Every shot is unique and is executed deliberately in a specific way all for effect. Tarantino is the master of style, and each thing he does with this film is done to create atmosphere and build the surreal world we are witnessing. Some of these elements include the use of black and white photography in certain scenes, including the powerful opening scene as well as segments of the climactic fight in the restaurant. There is also an animation sequence in the style of Japanese anime right in the middle of the film that is very impressive.

The sequences are among countless others (ranging from subtle to overt) that accentuate the overall richness of the storytelling and add to the uniquely visceral experience that the film provides. “Kill Bill” can be viewed as a new endeavor for Quentin Tarantino. It belongs to a genre that he has only hinted at in his other films and is rarely brought to life in mainstream American films. But he is going for the same effect with this film, only with a different genre. This movie has that unmistakable Tarantino-quality about it. Normally a film like this would be attacked for be in gall style and no substance. But in the case of “Kill Bill,” the style is the substance.