Review by Paul
Gunned down on her wedding day by her former colleagues, an assassin (Thurman) wakes from a coma four years later intent on revenge. She makes a 'death list': number five is Bill, but first there are some old workmates to see...
Publicised as Quentin Tarantino's 4th film (always a bad sign when the director overshadows the actors!), 'Kill Bill' is Tarantino's homage to the Eastern Martial Arts films. Various Martial Arts references are scattered throughout, from 'The Bride' in her black and yellow biker outfit (which is a tribute to Bruce Lee in his final film), to appearances by Sonny Chiba and David Carradine.
First off the basic premise - 'The Bride' (Uma Thurman) is a member of a group of highly paid assassins, each codenamed after a snake (her's being Black Mamba, but there are also Copperhead, Cottonmouth etc - you get the idea). When she decides to leave the group to get married the rest of the team decided to crash the ceremony and kill everyone (as you do). Luckily for her (or this film would have been 5 minutes long instead of the 5 hours its going to be) 'The Bride' survives but is ends up in a coma. True to the tradition of movie baddies (see the original 'Austin Powers' movie for the best explanation of the reasoning behind this), Bill decides not to kill her off while she's in this helpless state, but instead leaves her in the hope that she wont wake up wanting revenge on them all. Surprise, surprise - she wakes up wanting revenge on them all (well you would wouldn't you?) and sets about hunting down each of her ex-partners in turn, with Bill being last on her list (hence the name of the film!).
Ok that's about as much of the story as you really need and it's summed up in the first 5 minutes of the film anyway so I'm not spoiling anything.
Anyone who's seen the other 3 Tarantino directed films (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown) will know his style by now - just take any action film and cut it up, then rearrange the bits into any order you like. Always making sure you have the end of the film at the beginning and the start at the end and ta da - you have a Tarantino style film!
Kill Bill is no different - its just longer. A lot longer! That's why they had to split it into two films in the end (Volume 1 already released, Volume 2 early next year). The first film only covers 'The Bride's revenge on two of the group (20 minutes for the first fight, well over an hour for the second!).
The fight sequences are amazingly well choreographed, especially the ones involving Lucy Liu (Charlie's Angels) and Chiaki Kuriyama (Battle Royale), and you can easily see why it too so long to make. When I saw this I expected a similar blood and gore fest as the previous Tarantino films (Reservoir Dogs being the best example), but that's not what you get. Instead you get a parody of the Martial Arts films, with fight sequences that reminded me more of the Black Knight from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' ('tis but a scratch!). Every loss of limb is accompanied by an unrealistic fountain of blood.
If you're a Tarantino Fan, go and watch this (that was its main selling point after all), but if you want to watch it just to see what all the hype is about, you're better off waiting until both it and volume two comes out on DVD (no doubt in a nice little box set with all the missing scenes that he had to cut out to get it down to a more acceptable 5 hours!). At least then you'll be able to flick backwards and forwards through it so the film makes some sense.