An Epic Revenge Movie, With Homages to Kung Fu and Spaghetti Westerns

By Caren Badtke

kill-bill-2003Quentin Tarantino is nuts. But rather than hiding it, the American-born director weirds out the whole world with his random creative outbursts. But this happens in a way you may as well call genius. There’s blood. There’s gore. There’s a ton of humor. But how does this all fit together? Going way back, 2003’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 is one of the most vivid examples of Tarantino’s creative insanity. Recombining cliché-laden genres such as martial-arts movie, a genre that has influenced him since his early teenage years, road movie, Italian spaghetti western, and Chanbara, Tarantino delivers a story of epic revenge.

As Nancy Sinatra croons “Bang Bang, my baby shot me down,” the 90-minute-long movie starts with blacked-out sequences of a pregnant Uma Thurman, obviously having taken a brutal beating — while wearing a wedding dress. She lies on the floor and is greeted with a gun trigger by a man the audience identifies as Bill. In an overkill of what-the-heck-did-you-see-that scenarios, humorous slaughterhouse, and deliberately odd dialogue (“You still take cream and sugar, right?”), the nameless bride-turned-badass-chick (note: after she has been for four years in coma, no less) goes off to kill the people who  have made her list. After all, they took part in transforming her fairy-tale wedding into a bloody fiasco. Who’s to blame her?

On her mission to kill  Vernita Green, O-Ren Ishii, Budd, Elle Driver, and Bill (aka the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, The Bride’s ex-gang), Thurman’s character travels around the world and, symbolically, from film genre to film genre. At the same time, Tarantino jumps from scene to scene, regardless of chronology. Throwing in some random, anime-themed in-film sequences, analog special effects, and black-and-white fighting scenes, the director creates a polarizing film that makes the audience wonder whether to embrace the weirdness thrown at them or to turn around an never look back.

For Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, which premiered six months after the part 1, Tarantino re-teamed with actress Uma Thurman, with whom he had previously worked on the 1994 Tarantino cult favorite “Pulp Fiction.” Regardless of recurring rumors that the director and the actress are dating, they were clearly working closely together with obvious actor-director chemistry and an understanding previously seen in Pulp Fiction. 

The film’s musical soundtrack is truly adventurous. It spans from Krautrock to spaghetti western legend Riz Ortolani’s “I Giorni Dell’ira” (a song that would later reappear in Tarantino’s 2013 “Django Unchained”), but for the most part, Tarantino simply teams up with Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA. The mix of people chosen by the director is almost as random as his story lines appear to be; however, behind the curtain, everything is c;early deliberate and hand-picked. Always staying on the limit of the acceptable, Tarantino once again proves that he is one of the most influential and  genius filmmakers of our generation. 

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