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Imagination Connoisseur, Philip Alvarez, sings the praises of Quentin Tarantino’s epic two-parter, KILL BILL: Vol 1 & 2 – which were featured on the 100th episode of WINE-ning ABOUT MOVIES. Strap on your favorite katana and get ready for an all-out celebration of this chop-saki goodness.
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Greetings once again Rob, Elysabeth and my fellow PGS community.
I’m back with another letter, this time on Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2.
Congrats again on episode 100 & I can’t think of 2 better films to cover for 100. Whomever recommended this deserves a six pack from me.
But first allow to talk about the director Quentin Tarantino. He is most certainly my favorite modern director (sorry Nolan fans.) I truly feel his resume doesn’t have one bad film on it. Every movie is different yet has that trademark Tarantino dialogue and you know it’s a Tarantino the minute you start watching. QT movies to me are an event a world that you can just disappear in or wish you could be a part of.
No one can write the way QT does. He brings out the best out of any actor in his films, perhaps that’s why 3 performances have won Oscars. Christophe Waltz won for both Inglourious Basterds & Django Unchained, while just last year Brad Pitt won an Oscar for Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. I also love how he pretty much jump starts the careers of old school actors like John Travolta, David Carradine & Robert Forster.
Tarantino to me is simply a fanboy who gets to make the movies he wants. No that is definitely not an insult by any means. He gets the best actors and can use music like no other to help drive the story.
Anytime a new Tarantino movie would be announced you easily anticipate it, I don’t think any other director has that kinda momentum, except perhaps Nolan, Spielberg, Fincher or Scorcese. Although you always know what QT is going to deliver, while the others mentioned can still be hit or miss. I eagerly await the next movie QT plans on doing, whether it’s that rumored R rated Star Trek or Kill Bill Volume 3, no matter what he does I will watch it.
I don’t believe for one second that he plans to retire after 10 films. Part of me believes he finally wants that Best Director Oscar.
Now onto the films that are the subject of episode 100: Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2.
Still such a great choice really, but I like to think of them as one film. Although they are very much 2 very different films. Volume 1 essentially being a revenge flick & an homage to the Shaw Brothers flicks. Volume 2 is a film noir and a spaghetti western. Which makes sense considering how over the top Volume 1 is.
I am not ashamed to say that Kill Bill in my opinion is top 3 as far as Tarantino films, behind Pulp Fiction & Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Yes I love the latter film that much. But QT films are very hard to rank because they are all so good, yes even Death Proof, which I know even he doesn’t care for.
Besides Tarantino obviously the other reason these films work is the performance by Uma Thurman as The Bride, later revealed as Beatrix Kiddo. You easily sympathize with this character and want her to get revenge because of what was done to her. An assassin who was betrayed by her own VIPER squad & left for dead.
After waking from what I believe to be a 5 year coma, all she wants to do is get revenge on those who wanted her dead including Bill, whom she saved for last. The movie is a slow burn but it’s done purposely in order for the audience to gain sympathy for The Bride and root for her to get the revenge she so badly wants. The scenes where she asks for the Hattori Hanzo sword to be made are so well done. A man of peace now who has to make a sword used to kill people once again.
Once The Bride leaves Okinawa with the Hanzo sword is when the movie becomes just a straight up Kung fu film. Yes I know I didn’t mention her first kill with the Viveca Fox character, although well done, you knew it was coming. I do hope the daughter is the subject of Kill Bill Volume 3.
Now one of my favorite scenes in the film told while the Bride is sitting in the back seat trying to get her lower extremities to function again, we are shown an origin story done in anime style for Lucy Liu’s character O-Ren Ishii. A young assassin who’s own parents were killed in front of her & is the reason for becoming an assassin.
This story was done in anime style since they are very violent scenes yet so well done & tells her story in such a brilliant way with very little dialogue.
Now onto the scene that Volume 1 is known for, the over the top, hyper-violent scene with the Crazy 88s. A scene so violent it was shown in black and white to avoid an NC-17 rating. The fight scene with Gigi though is great also & builds up the main fight. I believe this Crazy 88s scene is around 9 or 10 minutes long. So much fun action & over the top violence that’s silly in a good way with how the blood is shown. The use of music is also great.
It’s a nice buildup to the final confrontation between The Bride and O-Ren. Which to me is a lot more subtle than the previous fight scene. It’s almost a bit poetic & a satisfying conclusion to Volume One. But wait during the credits it’s revealed by Bill himself that The Bride’s daughter is still alive and that plays a huge role in Volume 2.
Now onto Volume 2, hey two films covered means an extra long letter right? Anyway Volume 2 couldn’t be any more different than Volume 1. As much as I loved Vol. 1, Vol. 2 seems to be more traditional Tarantino as it’s very dialogue heavy. It feels poetic at times as if Beatrix needed to feel justified in her pursuit for revenge on Bill & the remaining Viper squad.
The movie isn’t even as violent as the first film & it didn’t need to be. It’s a film noir in the beginning & a western going into the final acts. The use of the music is much stronger here than in Vol. 1. It helps to tell the story before the usual long pieces of dialogue.
I’m not gonna talk about Elle Driver & Budd, which I think slowed the film down. While sure I appreciated Elle’s explanation on snake venom, it was very unfulfilling she ended up killing Budd. Especially after he pretty much tried to bury Beatrix alive.
Speaking of the scenes of Beatrix being buried alive, the flashback scenes with Pai Mei are my favorite. You get to see how Beatrix trained & became the disciplined person she is now. The scenes are actually quite powerful and while the Pai Mei character could’ve been silly at first, I appreciated these scenes because it tells her backstory.
Fun fact though, Tarantino almost cast himself as Pai Mei but didn’t think people would take it seriously, so he got Gordon Liu instead.
Now onto the twist of the movie, when Bill reveals to Beatrix that her daughter BeBe is still alive & he’s been raising her for the past 5 years. I felt these scenes were peak Tarantino & powerful & made it seem as if Beatrix was going to have a change of heart killing Bill. The scenes with her daughter were heartwarming & the flashback scene where she realizes she is pregnant & the assassin sent to kill her had sympathy was great also.
Let me say that Bill’s entire monologue about Superman is not only a great analogy of the entire film, but makes perfect sense. In other words Bill didn’t make Beatrix who she is & making him think she was dead all these years was just as wrong. He genuinely loved her & wanted her to change because she was going to be a mother now. Yet trying to kill her was just business.
At the same time Bill still feels he deserves to die & Beatrix wins because she has her daughter now and can now get out of the assassin business for good. I felt his death from the 5 Finger Death Punch was the best way for him to die as it wasn’t painful & he deserved a respectful demise. Beatrix gets the conclusion she deserves all along with her daughter.
I really do hope Tarantino & Thurman get to make Kill Bill Volume 3, it’s been 16 years since the last one. Maybe he’s been secretly filming it like Shyamalan did with Split. We can only hope as Tarantino fans, but anything he does next is already anticipated.
In conclusion once again congratulations on 100 episodes & covering one of my favorite Tarantino films. I hope y’all can cover more of his films for future episodes of Wine-ning.
Take care, be safe & Happy Holidays.