Quentin Tarantino’s magnificent Kill Bill series consists of two films, both of which are unique in their own right and seamlessly join together to depict the ultimate tale of revenge.
Uma Thurman plays a character, who for the entire duration of the first film and majority of the second is nameless. We know her only has The Bride, or by her code name Black Mamba. She used to be a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad which was run by the infamous Bill. When she fell pregnant she ran away from her fellow assassins to start a new life, however, on her wedding day she was beaten by her former peers and shot in the head by Bill himself, seconds before, she confesses to him that the baby she is carrying belongs to him. She survives the gun shot and awakens from a four year coma, without her baby. She embarks on her vengeful mission to murder every other member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and Bill himself.
Kill Bill Volume 1 focusses on two members of the squad; O-Ren Ishii aka Cotton Mouth and Vernita Green aka Copperhead. The film begins as The Bride arrives at Vernita Green’s house, equipped with a knife and thirst for blood. We are introduced to Elle Driver aka California Mountain Snake as she visits The Bride in hospital with the intention of finishing her off, only to be stopped by Bill who tells her she deserves better than that and she deserve her revenge. The Bride narrates her own story and before she arrives at O-Ren’s social club to take her out, we watch a short anime film about O-Ren’s childhood which is a highly unusual element to the film, but contributes to its martial arts, Asian inspired themes that run throughout. The showdown between The Bride and The Crazy-88 who are O-Ren’s own band of assassins results in a gratuitous amount of blood, some truly comic deaths and the enforced idea that The Bride is unstoppable.
Kill Bill Volume 2 is a much more poetic, narrative driven film. There is much less blood and gore and the comedic elements of the first film are stripped out leaving just the story of The Bride and her final vengeful movements. The film opens with a beautifully choreographed scene of The Bride on her wedding day, heavily pregnant, marrying a record store owner from a small town nearby. Bill comes to visit her and we are shown are true glimpse into the deepening love the two had for each other. They affectionately converse and she gently kisses him before his assassins descend on the day.
She has two other members of the squad to finish off before turning on Bill who are Elle Driver, who we met in the first film, and Budd aka Sidewinder. Budd, knowing full well that she is coming after him waits for her in his home, just as she arrives her shoots her with a double barrel shotgun loaded with rock salt. Not intending to kill her, only disable her, he proceeds to bury her alive in a coffin. We are then taken back to when she trained with the notorious Master of martial arts and fighting Pai Mei, an old man who lives up in a mountain. She lives with him and trains with him for months, he pushes her to her absolute limits to learn discipline and the meaning of the arts so she can truly practice them. Remembering the teachings of Pai Mei she punches her way out of her grave and emerges in the dusty sand. Now she’s really angry and she is ready to fully destroy Budd and Elle so she can focus her attention on Bill.
Both films are brilliant in their own way. Volume 1 is much more reminiscent of slapstick Japanese martial arts films with zooming shots, silly music and gratuitous amounts of violence, Volume 2 takes a more serious turn and demonstrates impeccable film making that we know and love of all Tarantino movies. The story is sprawling and unveils itself slowly, methodically and perfectly as we are with The Bride on every step of her vengeful odyssey until she finally reaches Bill and the ultimate showdown can begin.
I recommend these movies to any Tarantino fan who share in his personal love of the martial arts genre and who love a good revenge story. Uma Thurman is exceptional as The Bride and she is supported by a fantastic cast of David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and Lucy Liu.
Kill Bill Volume 1 & Kill Bill Volume 2 are both available to borrow in the DVD ZONE shelved at 791.43 K