Tarantino slays audiences with 'Kill Bill'

    ix years have passed since Oscar-winner Quentin Tarantino last turned out a film and, frankly, Hollywood has never been as dull as it is now. Our re-introduction to the long-jawed filmmaker with a penchant for violence can be best summed up in the first 30 seconds of his new movie, “”Kill Bill: Volume 1.””

    Courtesy of Miramax
    Sword Play: Uma Thurman, the blonde-haired assassin, brandishes her blade as she swears vengeance upon her former cohorts in the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad.

    Our story begins with lead actress Uma Thurman’s face. However, the piercing blue of her gorgeous eyes are just another shade of grayscale in this black-and-white shot that has the bombshell’s countenance slashed and bloodied as she quivers uncontrollably while clinging to valuable breaths. Her struggling condition is awkwardly painful for the audience ‹ like some UNICEF commercial gone horribly wrong. She’s gasping and crying and waiting to be put out of her misery when a deep male voice enters: “”Do you find me sadistic?””

    If that was you asking the question, Mr. Tarantino, then our answer is a resounding “”yes.”” And that’s why you and your sadistic movies are more than welcome back to a Hollywood where horrible plotlines are playing second fiddle only to sequels with horrible plotlines. And while many may go into “”Kill Bill”” expecting its almost exclusively female cast of asskickers to resemble another worthless installment of “”Charlie’s Angels,”” those naysayers need to get with the program and remember who we’re dealing with here. “”Charlie’s Angels”” is the theatrical version of Maxim magazine; “”Kill Bill”” is a kung fu movie directed by a man whose only goal in life is to desensitize his audience within minutes of his films, while dropping in as much pop culture knowledge as possible.

    Tarantino led the way for guys-with-guns flicks when “”Pulp Fiction”” achieved mainstream success in 1995. While he created and saw to fruition cult favorites “”True Romance”” and “”Reservoir Dogs”” beforehand, it was “”Pulp Fiction”” where Tarantino, with his unique storyboards, interesting characters and over-the-top violence, gained widespread fame.

    However, “”Kill Bill”” is a departure from these types of movies in some respects. Tarantino ditches his much-mimicked guys-with-guns subgenre and borrows a page from contemporary times, embracing martial arts to drive the action in the vein of popular films like “”The Matrix,”” “”X-Men”” and anything with Jackie Chan in it. The “”creative dialogue”” he uses in his earlier movies, where ordinary pop culture like Big Macs, Pam Greer and Madonna’s “”Like a Virgin”” are thrown in on a whim, is axed. Don’t be fooled ‹ this is classic Tarantino in some respects, but it’s primarily a kung fu movie.

    The plot takes us on the odyssey of The Bride, played by Thurman, who was once known to her cronies in the Deadly Viper Assassination Death Squad as “”Black Mamba.”” After becoming pregnant and falling in love, The Bride skips out on her loyalties to her band of deadly operatives run by Bill, and chooses the domestic life of marriage and motherhood. On her wedding day, her former brethren take the Texas wedding chapel hostage and kill everyone present. They leave The Bride for dead, shooting her in the head.

    Lo and behold, she only winds up comatose and awakens four years later. After breaking out of the hospital and regrouping, she makes a list of the five people in the Deadly Viper Assassination Death Squad and vows revenge on every one. This film is essentially a story of The Bride crossing off name after name on the list.

    “”Kill Bill”” is over four hours long uncut, so the Miramax studios allowed Tarantino to keep as much footage as he wanted on the condition that it was released in two separate volumes. This first volume features The Bride’s battles with characters played by Vivica A. Fox and Lucy Liu. The other three characters The Bride must pay retribution to, assuming she makes it through the list alive, will be part of the second volume, slated for release in February 2004.

    But while the storyline seems as linear as the The Bride’s list, fear not. Tarantino plays with the chronology, as is his specialty, to keep it interesting and even throws in a 20-minute animé scene describing the Liu character’s rise to power. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Tarantino film without the cheesy ways in which he makes the characters’ blood spill out during fight scenes, sticking to the classics (the fire hydrant and garden sprinkler) while adding a few new settings (the slot machine payout, tropical storm and Shamu splash zone).

    For the easily queased, don’t enter this film and expect to keep your lunch down. For the desensitized, don’t forget the popcorn ‹ this movie rocks!

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