6D - The Michigan Daily - New Student Edition - Fall 2004
After all the blood is spattered and the
severed limbs 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 last-
ing until the end credits.
The film radiates with style, from the
incredible soundtrack to the stunning
sets. Having the requisite flash and glitz
compensates for a paper-thin plot. Uma
Thurman plays The Bride, a former
assassin wronged by her boss, Bill,
unseen but audible, and the four-mem-
ber 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 realistic
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 assassins who
was responsible for the wedding attack.
As Thurman dismembers foe after
foe, Tarantino manages to film the
scenes as though it is a skillfully choreo-
graphed dance, making the grotesque
11IM - T O I UI'J FW i U 'A V
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 film-
maker and star, the features should be
plentiful and informative. This is where
"Kill Bill: Vol.1" fails. Instead of a com-
mentary track with Tarantino not only
discussing the process of making the
movie, but also providing insight into
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 char-
acter with Quentin, but she is noticeably
absent from the extras. The only things
included on this edition are a meager
"making-of" featurette, music'videos of
the Japanese band featured in "The
House of Blue Leaves" chapter and trail-
ers 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," but as a DVD, fans are better off
waiting for the obligatory special edition
that will be released after "Vol. 2" fin-
ishes its theatrical run.
Here comes The Bride an d she's angry
Kill Bill: Vol.2
April 16, 2004
By Alex Wolsky
T HE MAIN EVENT ...* **
First things first: "Kill Bill: Vol. 2"
isn't a perfect film - neither was "Vol.
l." The final piece of Quentin Taranti-
no's sundered pulp puzzle comes togeth-
er in full force as.
The Bride (Uma
final punishment on
those who wronged
her. Underneath all
the shogun violence
and dried blood lies
At Quality 16,
a film so dense in both history and cul-
ture, one can't help to be amazed by
Once again acting as both writer and
director, Tarantino has no problem wear-
ing his influences on his sleeve. With a
dense network of references in the sec-
ond installment, Tarantino is on one
hand playing a game with his audience,
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 influ-
ence 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 Driver (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 Thur-
man. Their peculiarities and nuances
make the characters memorable and
more fleshed out than in "Vol. 1."
Darryl Hannah, who had a fairly lim-
ited though significant role in "Vol. 1,"
returns in "Vol. 2" as the manipulative
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 execution 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 broth-
er and colleague Budd, playing an iron-
ic, absurdist role in "Vol. 2" as a
once-deadly assassin turned bouncer at a
lonely Barstow, Calif., topless bar. Mad-
sen brings the disillusioned swordfighter
to life wonderfully. He's a man who has
turned to 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, nearly non-exis-
tent in the first film - becomes all-too-
human in the second. Tarantino's
conscious move to not portray the char-
acter negatively 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 hilari-
ous 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 bullshit. The anti-
climactic third act of "Vol. 2" serves as a
microcosm for the entire film, which is
slanted toward dialogue rather than
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 spa-
cious exploration in character study and
dialogue. Nearly every fight sequence in
"Vol. 2" is framed by long, drawn-out
conversations which slow, but don't hin-
der the film.
The structure of "Kill Bill" seems off,
however. At times, scenes from "Vol. 1"
seem like they would fit better 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 Fic-
tion." 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 com-
plement each other perfectly.
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, while
the second part is largely devoted to
the West - that is, American and
European revenge flicks, particularly
the spaghetti Western. And it does so
with a panache and style unlike any
other film this year.
DON'T THE ROCKS T I GOT
THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE
1 :AI I:1 A] 3
Buy used and save
October 23, 2003
There is something so familiar, yet,
at the same time, so mysterious
about the sights, sounds and
smells of a movie theater - the ornate
lobbies, the flicker of the screen, the
aroma of fresh popcorn (please don't
actually eat the stuff; one handful is
guaranteed to shave years off your life).
At its purest, seeing a movie is a reli-
gious experience, and a good movie the-
ater can come to resemble a church. See
a great movie in a great theater, and you
can see the face of God Himself.
But, in recent years, the quality of the
experience has declined severely. A vari-
ety of problems perpetuated by both the
industry itself and suburban multiplexes
are destroying the once-holy ritual. What
was once as transcendent as finding
God is now about as awe-inspiring as
shopping at Wal-Mart.
Take, for example, last Saturday when
I went to see Quentin Tarantino's "Kill
Bill" at the Quality 16 on Jackson Road.
Arriving at the theater, I was greeted by
an undertrained and underpaid staff of
15-year-olds - a typical pimple-faced
bunch thanking me for my patronage
with feigned sincerity. Entering the the-
ater well early, the usual slideshow of
movie trivia and ads for cosmetology
schools and local car dealerships was up
and running. Two punk teenagers played
hacky sack in the aisle as the sounds of a
film from a neighboring theater bled
through the paper-thin walls. At the
scheduled start time, as is the trend, a
20-minute segment of TV commercials
and trailers played. After that, as is also
the trend, the theater's shameless self-
promotion reel ran, instructing me to
buy refreshments and gift certificates,
all in the guise of a public service
announcement asking people to turn off
their phones and refrain from talking.
Like most other moviegoers, I've
grown accustomed to these incompetent
Buying used textbooks saves you 25% off
the price of new. Rush to the bookstore for
the best selection of used books.
o ttar, s
staffs, irritating audience members and
pre-show ads. On the whole, I've given
up hope that I can go to a multiplex and
have the magical experiences I did in
years past. I hoped that "Kill Bill" would
restore my faith in our nation's multi-
screen theaters. Quentin Tarantino hasn't
let me down in the past, so I trusted that
if anyone could do it, it would be him.
Sadly, it wasn't the moving experi-
ence I hoped for. But it was no fault
of Tarantino - "Kill Bill" is a film of
instant-classic caliber. Something else
tainted the experience. Throughout
the film a pattern of red dots momen-
tarily flashed on the screen. But these
dots weren't splatterings of blood
from the ultra-violent movie hitting
the camera, nor were they subliminal
messages inserted by the devious
The dots I saw are part of the film
industry's new anti-piracy campaign.
Each print of the film is marked with a
unique pattern of red spots so that if the
film should be illegally copied, it can be
traced to its original source.
The technology, known as Cap Code,
was actually developed 20 years ago by
Kodak. In its original form, the patterns
on each print were so small that the
average moviegoer never knew they
existed. But recent problems with digital
copies of films being distributed on the
Internet have caused film distributors to
increase their anti-piracy efforts. A new
form of the Cap Code has been instated,
and in its latest incarnation, the patterns
are much larger and are conspicuously
flashed in light-colored areas of the
screen. The new system has become so
invasive that in some cinephile circles it
is referred to as "Crap Code."
I won't go so far as to suggest that the
Cap Code ruined the film for me, but it
interfered with an otherwise uplifting
experience. I'm not usually one to com-
plain about the consumerism rampant in
America. I take no issue with most cor-
porations, and I'll never complain about
Pierpont Commons Bookstore
Michigan Union Bookstore