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April 16, 2004 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2004-04-16

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Sand she's angry
Here comes The Brde ..." Kill Bill: Vi

Oh, for the love of elevation!

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 on DVD
Released: April 13, 2004

By Adam Rottenberg
Daily Arts Editor

After all the blood is spattered and
the severed limbs all fall to the
ground, Quentin Tarantino's "Kill
Bill: Vol. 1" serves as the perfect
homage to the grindhouse flicks of
the '70s. The director's love for the
body genres emanates from the
screen, beginning
with the title and Kill Bill:
lasting all the
way until the end Vol. 1
credits. Miramax
The film radi-
ates with style, from the incredible
soundtrack to the stunning sets. Having
the requisite flash and glitz compen-
sates for a paper-thin plot. Uma Thur-
man plays The Bride, a former assassin
wronged by her boss, Bill, unseen but
audible, and the four-member Deadly
Viper Assassination Squad. The DiVAS
left The Bride - who was pregnant -
for dead after massacring her wedding
party. Now she seeks revenge against
those who wronged her.
The plot serves merely as the mecha-
nism for The Bride to exact her retribu-
tion, culminating in beautiful and brutal
violence. The fights range from realis-
tic to cartoonish, best exemplified by
the stunning anime sequence. The
eight-minute section tells the origin of
O-Ren (Lucy Liu), one of Bill's assas-
sins who was responsible for the wed-
ding attack. As Thurman dismembers
foe after foe, Tarantino manages to film
_ the scenes as though it is a skillfully

choreographed dance, making the
grotesque and often gruesome slayings
attractive to the viewer. The pristine
widescreen transfer brings the bloody
mayhem to life, even on the small
screen, while the carefully selected
music enlivens the film in the Dolby
Digital soundtrack.
For a movie so entrenched in its
filmmaker and star, the features should
be plentiful and informative. "Kill Bill:
Vol.1" fails in this regard. Instead of a
commentary track with Tarantino
where he could discuss not only the
process of making the movie, but also
provide insight into all the films that
inspired this tribute to the exploitation
genre, there is nothing. Thurman could
have been involved and discussed the
creation of The Bride character with
Quentin, but she is noticeably absent
from the extras. The only things includ-
ed on this edition are a meager "mak-
ing-of" featurette, music videos of the
Japanese band featured in "The House
of Blue Leaves" chapter and trailers for
Tarantino's film catalog.
As a revenge film, "Kill Bill: Vol. 1"
is the culmination of the best parts of
the genre. Though the lack of an
engrossing storyline remains its biggest
fault, the frenetic action and incredible
style will likely lure viewers back to see
if The Bride gets her retribution in "Kill
Bill: Vol. 2." As a DVD, fans are better
off waiting for the obligatory special
edition that will be released after "Vol.
2" finishes its theatrical run.

First things first: "Kill Bill: Vol. 2"
isn't a perfect film - neither was
"Vol. 1." The final piece of Quentin
Tarantino's sundered pulp puzzle
comes together in full force as The
Bride (Uma Thurman) inflicts final
punishment on those who wronged
her. Underneath all the shogun vio-
lence and dried blood lies a film so
dense in both history and culture, one

can't help to be
amazed by Taran-
tino's ambition.
Once again act-
ing as both writer
and director,
Tarantino has no
problem wearing
his influences on

Kill Bill:
Vol. 2
At Quality 16,
Showcase and
his sleeve. With a

dense network of references in the sec-
ond installment, Tarantino is on one
hand playing a game with his audi-
ence, while on the other hand making a
point - demonstrating how East and
West have so strongly influenced each
other over the past few years. Just as
Japanese director Akira Kurosawa
openly brought the American Western
to his 1954 epic, "The Seven Samurai,"
Italian director Sergio Leone brought
Kurosawa's influence to the European
market with "A Fistful of Dollars."
Finally, Tarantino has connected all
three points with "Kill Bill." He melds
the Eastern, European and American
points-of-view into one raucous,
poignant meta-film.
"Vol. 2" draws most heavily on the
American Western. Where the first
film was a transition from East to West
(The Bride was literally transplanted
from a Texas hospital to Japan), the
second film is solely focused on The
Bride's journey through the barren,
cavernous Texas landscape in search of

her final enemies - Budd (Michael
Madsen, "Reservoir Dogs"), Elle Dri-
ver (Darryl Hannah, "Splash") and, of
course, Bill (David Carradine, TV's
"Kung Fu").
Because "Kill Bill" has such a thin
plot to work with, the performance of
the characters comes to the forefront.
And, as The Bride drives the story for-
ward, the secondary characters
become the most important feature of
the film and thus take the spotlight off
of Thurman. Their peculiarities and
nuances make the characters memo-
rable and more fleshed out than they
were in "Vol. 1."
Darryl Hannah, who had a fairly
limited though significant role in "Vol.
1," returns in "Vol. 2" as the manipu-
lative Elle Driver. Elle plaintively acts
as a foil - her character, by contrast,
enhances the distinctive characteristics
of The Bride. Hannah marvelously
plays "The Bride Gone Bad," which is
so carefully alluded to in her dialogue
from "Vol. 1." Hannah's flawless exe-
cution of the role transcends the film's
self-referential nature, as she becomes
a unique entity in her own right.
Michael Madsen portrays Bill's
brother and colleague Budd, as he
plays an ironic, absurdist role in "Vol.
2" as a once-deadly assassin turned
bouncer at a lonely, Barstow, Calif.
topless bar. Madsen brings the disillu-
sioned swordfighter to life wonderful-
ly. He's a man who has turned to the
Barstow for a solitary, private life,
only to be brought out of retirement by
The Bride's quest for revenge.
And, then there's The Bride and
Bill's unfinished business. Carradine
- who plays the masterful Bill, all
but non-existent in the first film -
becomes all-too-human in the second.
Tarantino's conscious move to not
reflect the character in a negative man-
ner works effectively, and by the final
battle royale, the audience empathizes
with Bill. Interwoven in between

tense, well-crafted scenes of Bill and
The Bride, are flashbacks into the life
of The Bride including a hilarious
homage to '70s kung fu detailing her
training with the white-browed'Pai
Mei (Chinese film star Chia Hui Liu).
The nefarious Bill - known only
by the tenor of his voice in the first
film - proves to be a master of not
just martial arts, but long-winded bull-
shit. The anti-climactic third act of
"Vol. 2" acts as a microcosm for the
entire film, which is slanted toward
dialogue as opposed to combat. It will
most certainly upset those who
enjoyed the first volume's in-your-face
violence. Unlike "Vol. 1" which felt
like a visceral dagger to the jugular,
the second installment is a spacious
exploration in character study and dia-
logue. Nearly every fight sequence in
"Vol. 2" is framed by long, drawn-out
conversations which slow, but don't
hinder the film.

The structure of "Kill Bill" seems
off, however. At times, scenes from
"Vol. 1" seem like they would fit bet-
ter later in the film. Tarantino appears
to have reshuffled "Kill Bill" for the
sake of reshuffling the film, not
because it emphasizes a critical point
or thematic issue as in his earlier
work, "Pulp Fiction." That being said,
the films work best together. In the
way that "Vol. 1" seemed rushed and
aimless, "Vol. 2" seems slowed and
cerebral. They compliment each other
With the release of "Kill Bill: Vol.
2," Tarantino's grand design becomes
clear: The first part of his epic took
place under the sign of the East, the
second part is largely devoted to the
West - that is, American and Euro-
pean revenge flicks, particularly the
spaghetti Western. And it does so with
a panache and style unlike any other
film this year.

I could never tell which one was my butter knife.

Film: ****
Picture/Sound: ****
Features: I

Kill Bill: Vol. 2 Soundtrack
Released: April 13, 2004

By Evan McGarvey
Daily Arts Writer
O N T HE ST E REO ... *
Obscure isn't a strong enough word
to emphasize the depths to which
Quentin Tarantino goes in selecting
music for his soundtracks. With the

help of RZA, the
enigmatic produc-
er behind the
slowly disinte-
grating Wu-Tang
Clan, he organ-
ized the smatter-
ing of music for
"Kill Bill: Vol. 1."

Kill Bill: Vol. 2
A Band Apart

That disc managed to balance the
RZA's natural taste for avant-garde
trip-hop and Tarantino's dizzying
devotion to rockabilly.
It seems that Tarantino won round
two. Pluming the depths of pop and
world music, the album has blustery
Spanish guitars and the overall feel of
a classic Western. No surprise then
that the godfather of the spaghetti
Western soundtrack, Ennio Morri-

cone, has three songs on the disc. The
twang of Charlie Feathers and the sin-
ister acoustic guitar
creep of Luis E. Baclov's
"Summertime Killer" aE
mirrors the film's bone-
dry landscapes.
The commitment to ""r"n
the overlooked corners
of music is compelling,
but the album's poor
sequencing and droning
lone-star guitars make
much of it unappealing to the casual
listener and jarring to the devotee.
Drained of as much life as one of The
Bride's victims, the pasty soundscapes
provoke nothing.
The track listing is more exciting
than the music itself. Other than
David Carradine's admittedly allur-
ing pit-viper drawl, the snippets of
With Featured Mug Drinks
On Sale Along With The
Bells Pints/Bottles For Only $2.75
fxil lSPz & az4 a"y:/

dialogue from the movie serve no
purpose. The two non-Wester-themed
tracks, "About Her"
and "Urami Bushi"
arrive too late on the
disc to wake the listen-
er from their rambling
slumber. Solemn back-
beats of Malcolm
McLearn's "About Her"
echo the disenchant-
ment of Uma Thur-
man's character well.
"Urami Bushi" has Asian-flavored
melodies and spiting rap verses with


witty references to movie characters.
It's a song begging for earlier place-
ment. Philosophy be damned, the
song could have even been packaged
as a single.
Commendable as the lack of album
filler may be, the patchwork framing
of this disc could make one long for
the predictability of some Beatles
covers. Tarantino crafted this sound-
track in his own mind from his exclu-
sive musical tastes. Boldly
unapologetic as it is, the finished
product is likely to go nowhere other
than its creator's private collection.


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