“Kill Bill Vol.1”
I grew up in the 1990s, and I liked Quentin Tarantino movies. We all did. Don’t fucking lie about it. When we were 13 years old, “the gimp” and “Royale with cheese” sounded cool, and the movie that had them was available in our video stores while most cool movies were in Greenwich Village lofts, out of our reach.
Tarantino faded fast after 1994 for two reasons. One was entirely personal; I don’t need to go into it, because Vanity Fair has. The other was dynamistic and commercial. Video became cheaper and cheaper, and Tarantino had, in 10,000,000 interviews, revealed the sources of his inspiration – the Shaw Bros., “Switchblade Sisters,” lots of lousy 70s movies. The companies that owned or bought the rights to these movies were able to mass produce old kung fu and blaxploitation flicks and foist them upon the Tarantino fans, increasingly more-ironic-than-thou. This is why we have the Dolemite box set, the Sonny Chiba Street Fighter movies, and everything that could possibly be associated with Wu Tang.
Tarantino has very few tricks that we haven’t now seen. This is why “Kill Bill” is very fun, and often beautiful to look at, and why it’s a travesty that Miramax refused to see the 25 minutes or so of bland “cool” footage that could have so easily been cut. They told reporters earlier this year that “Kill Bill” couldn’t be cut into one movie. It was a smart business decision – just like Spike Lee’s asinine complaints about the n-word in “Jack Brown” had sold tickets to that movie, the bisection will sell “Kill Bill.” But Jesus Christ was it unnecessary.
Every other scene is a “mount-up.” Dialogue runs on very, very long. No man can tell me that the scene where The Bride (Uma Thurman) enters the sushi bar owned by Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) needed to exist. Maybe it says something about how thoroughly he’s renounced swordmaking. Who gives a shit?
It’s stupid that the movie was not pared down a little and strung together for one viewing, but that’s not reason enough to write off the good things. There are hilarious touches, like the El Paso sheriff who keeps all his pairs of badass sunglasses lined up on his dashboard, or “Air-O,” the samurai airline where everyone keeps a sword next to his seat. The fight at the “House of Blue Leaves” and the extended anime origin of O-Ren Ishii are both completely fantastic, and should inspire suicide in the people who tried to copy Tarantino from 1994-2003 (Film majors, I’m looking at you!).
It’s a very fun movie, with awesome fight scenes. But thanks to Tarantino, we’ve seen those before. When he adds soupy hip dialogue and his patented foot fetish scenes, it seems like he’s padding between the stuff that would land this movie in the pantheon – the incredible, nauseating fight scenes.