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BWN Nerds Movie Review: Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)

The Nerds tackle the Tarantino classic Kill Bill Vol. 1! How do the Nerds feel? You didn’t think it was gonna be that easy, did you?



The Nerds tackle the Tarantino classic Kill Bill Vol. 1! How do the Nerds feel? You didn’t think it was gonna be that easy, did you?

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere.  This week DPP, Dave and Patrick review the 2003 Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill Vol. 1!

The Flick:  Kill Bill Vol. 1

What’s it About:  A former assassin known only as “the Bride” awakens from a four year coma seeking revenge on her former team led by her former lover Bill.

Metacritic Score: 69

The Nerds’ Take on Kill Bill Vol. 1:

DPP:  Quentin Tarantino movies are known for their brutal and bloody storytelling.  Not all of them, but most have a violent theme as the main plot point.  Kill Bill Volume 1 takes the bloody violence to a whole new level.  A group of assassins called The Vipers, led by Bill, an ex-lover of the bride, brutally murder a wedding party.  The Bride (Uma Thurman), a former assassin herself, is assumed dead, but ends up in a coma instead.  She loses her unborn child in the process as well.  Four years later she awakens.  Realizing what has happened, she creates a “Death List,” and begins a mission to extract revenge on each member of The Vipers, saving Bill for the final showdown.  In Volume 1, we get to watch The Bride take out the first two names on her list, but we’ll have to wait for Volume 2 for the rest.

This is not a movie for the faint of heart.  It’s brutal.  It’s bloody.  The storytelling is really done with action scenes rather than an abundance of dialogue, which Tarantino is usually known for some interesting dialogue in his movies.  Tarantino also makes use of color in this movie.  The Bride in an all yellow suit, a strong contrast to the enemies in black.  Each fight scenes has a different style.  One changes to black and white, then back to color to show all the red blood splattered around the buildings.  There are definitely some unique things that are done in this movie, and I certainly will give it points for the cinematics.  Unfortunately this is not really my cup of tea.  Over the top bloodshed, limbs flying, and pedophile and necrophilia references.  A 4 year old watches her mother get murdered.  During her coma, The Bride’s body was being used by necrophiliacs.  And the missing dialogue is too much for me.  Pulp Fiction is one of my favorite movies, and there are definitely some gory scenes in there.  But they are set over the course of the movie, with some great dialogue to cover them up.  This is just violence for the sake of violence.  And if you enjoy that sort of thing, you’ll love this movie.  For me, I need the substance of narration to soak up all the blood found in this one.

DP’s Rating: 2/5

Dave: Kill Bill is Quentin Tarantino at his finest and next to Pulp Fiction the saga is my favorite of his films. Volume 1 has a lot of the trademarks of Tarantino films including over the top moments, time jumps, and unforgettable characters. In Volume 1, we get introduced to The Bride (Uma Thurman), aka Black Mamba. We are not yet sure of her real name as it gets bleeped out whenever someone says it. In any event, The Bride had the holy hell beat out of her on her wedding day and was shot in the head by Bill, a crime lord of sorts that we only get a very basic understanding of in this installment of the series. The Bride is presumed dead, along with her unborn child, who she tells Bill is his a microsecond before he shoots her in the head. The Bride somehow survives and awakens after being in a coma for 4 years. From there, it is all about revenge against the people who took away 4 years of her life. The Bride has a Death List with five names on it. In Volume 1, we get to see her exact revenge on two of the five. Along the way, she is provided a samurai sword of exceptionally rare craftsmanship, and we get little tidbits of the backstory, although we never quite get an understanding of why Bill did what he did to her.

The movie is excellent but not without some flaws. The opening battle between Black Mamba and Vernita Green is excellent with the added twist that the two women stop fighting when Vernita’s daughter, Nikki, comes home from school. The Bride does not want to kill Vernita in front of her child. Her tone changes, out of necessity, when Vernita tries to shoot her with a gun hidden in a cereal box. The Bride apologizes to Nikki and tells her if she ever wants to seek revenge, then The Bride will be waiting.

At the other extreme is the battle leading up to the climatic fight of Volume 1 between Black Mamba and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu). O-Ren has become the leader of the Yakuza and The Bride literally has to defeat the entire Yakuza just to get to O-Ren. She carves her way through no less than 50 Yakuza members in an ass-whipping that would make Rambo second guess his own prowess. It is completely over the top to the point of absurdity and the blood effects when a limb is severed are completely nonsensical. But it is awesome all the same. It is girl-power on lethal doses of steroids and it is just too much fun. O-Ren puts up a good fight against The Bride but ends up getting scalped. Black Mamba leaves one of O-Ren’s minions alive to let Bill know that she is coming for him and, at the very end, we learn that The Bride’s child is still alive, setting the stage for a highly anticipated Vol. 2.

As I said, it is not perfect and it may be too over the top and too gory for many (DPP, I am looking at you). Then again, you might like that sort of craziness. But the characters are great, the story is very interesting, and you leave Vol. 1 wanting t learn more about what drove Bill to do what he did and to, hopefully, see him get his in the end. Kill Bill Vol. 1 is an absolute blast and an immensely entertaining romp that any fan of Pulp Fiction will thoroughly enjoy.

Dave’s Rating: 4/5

Patrick:  I’m gonna get this out of the way here first.  I love me some Kill Bill.  But I looooooooove me some Kill Bill Vol. 1.  So, forgive my fanboy review.  Kill Bill Vol. 1 is the first of a two part saga from Quentin Tarantino that tells the tale of The Bride, an assassin brutally attacked and nearly killed on her wedding day.  She is the lone survivor among the dead, one of whom is The Bride’s unborn child.  The Bride is in a coma for four years and when she awakens, she knows that her attackers were members of her assassin squad.  She makes a list of her former compatriots and begins a quest for revenge that will hopefully culminate in her killing her former leader and lover, Bill.  And that’s it, both films are a simple tale of a woman seeking revenge.  It’s wrapped in 70’s pop cultures and, as I’ll get to later, and homage to so many great film genres of the 70s.

The movie is divided into parts, but in typical Tarantino fashion, the movie does not follow a linear path.  The opening scene finds the Bride confronting former fellow assassin Black Mamba in the first step of the Bride’s revenge mission.  After the first scene, the audience shifts back in time to the Bride’s recovery before sliding forward again to her travels in Japan.  Despite these time shifts, the audience can easily follow along.  Now, let’s get to why I love this flick:  It’s a homage to so many different types of action films.  From Westerns to 70’s exploitation action flicks, it’s all there.  What really sets the movie apart for me is the third act.  The third act is a live action Anime film!  The moment the film moves to Japan to tell the tale O-Ren Ishii we are immersed in the art.  The audience is even treated to a small anime film telling O-Ren’s history.  The style of violence from then on mimics anime.  Blood gushes from severed limbs leaving an over the top ocean in it’s wake.  Yet, even after all the intense bloodletting the audience is treated to a gorgeous final duel between the Bride and O-Ren leading to a satisfying conclusion to the first Volume.

Uma Thurman is terrific as The Bride, displaying a fantastic range of rage in her thirst for revenge and her pain at the loss of her child.  Lucy Lui is great as O-Ren Ishii and has a fully developed story to allow the audience to feel invested in the battle of the finale.  Vivica Fox is a bit shortchanged as Black Mamba, but she takes advantage of her time and represents amicably.  The rest of the cast of characters are briefly introduced as they will be a big part of Vol. 2.  Heck, Bill is only in the movie for a few lines.  This movie is only the beginning, and I am here for every minute of it, so long as I can wiggle my damn toe and get out of that bed.

Patrick’s Rating:  4.5/5

Overall Nerds Rating for Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003):  3.5/5

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