Kill Bill Volume 1


Kill Bill Volume 1
Kill Bill Volume 1

Teaser poster
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Produced by Lawrence Bender
Written by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Uma Thurman
Lucy Liu
Vivica A. Fox
Daryl Hannah
David Carradine
Michael Madsen
Julie Dreyfus
Music by The RZA
Cinematography Robert Richardson
Editing by Sally Menke
Studio A Band Apart Productions
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release date(s) October 10, 2003 (2003-10-10)
Running time 111 minutes
Country United States
Japan
Language English
Budget $55 million (shared with Volume 2)
Box office $180,949,045

Kill Bill Volume 1 is a 2003 action thriller film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is the first of two volumes that were theatrically released several months apart, the second volume being Kill Bill Volume 2.

Kill Bill was originally scheduled for a single theatrical release, but with a running time of over four hours, it was separated into two volumes. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released in late 2003, and Kill Bill: Volume 2 was released in early 2004 - though the two films are frequently referred to collectively as simply "Kill Bill."

The volumes follow a character initially identified as "The Bride", Beatrix Kiddo, a former member of an assassination team who seeks revenge on her ex-colleagues who massacred members of her wedding party and tried to kill her. The movie is often noted for its stylish direction and its homages to film genres such as Hong Kong martial arts films, Japanese chanbara films, Italian spaghetti westerns, girls with guns, and rape and revenge.

Contents

Plot

The film opens with an intertitle displaying the Sun Tzu quote, "Revenge is a dish best served cold." A pregnant bride (Uma Thurman) lies badly wounded at her wedding, telling an unseen Bill (David Carradine) that it is his baby, before he shoots her in the head. Sometime later, The Bride finds Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) at her home and fights her, but they cease after Vernita's daughter Nikki arrives from school. It is revealed that both women are former members of the Deadly Vipers Assassination Squad, elite assassins under the employ of Bill. The squad was ordered by Bill to attack The Bride's wedding in El Paso, Texas. Vernita attempts to kill her with a revolver hidden in a box of children's breakfast cereal. The shot misses The Bride, who retaliates with a throwing knife to Vernita's chest, instantly killing her. The Bride offers Nikki revenge should she seek it as an adult before leaving. She then strikes Vernita's name off a checklist; the name "O-Ren Ishii" has already been crossed out.

It is revealed that after the attack at the wedding, The Bride miraculously survived the head shot but was left comatose. In hospital, another member of the Deadly Vipers, the one-eyed Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), enters The Bride's room and prepares a lethal injection but is interrupted by Bill on the phone, who states they will take action only if she wakes. Four years later, The Bride awakens and is horrified to discover that she is no longer pregnant, leading her to assume that her baby is dead. Meanwhile, she learns that a corrupt hospital worker by the name of Buck has been raping her in her comatose state, and offering his paying friends the chance to do the same. While Buck's friend is playing a sex game with her, The Bride tears off his lips and takes his knife, after which she waits for Buck to return. After disabling Buck, she kills him with a door by repeatedly smashing his head between a door and its jamb, and steals his truck. She escapes, swearing revenge, and picks her first target: O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), an orphan whose parents were killed by gangsters and who eventually took revenge, becoming an assassin. After the attack on the wedding, she has since become the leader of the Tokyo yakuza.

The Bride travels to Okinawa to obtain a sword from retired legendary swordsmith Hattori Hanzō (Sonny Chiba), who has become a sushi chef and has sworn never to forge again. After learning that her target is his former student, Bill, he agrees to forge his finest sword for her. The Bride tracks down O-Ren at a nightclub in Tokyo, challenging her to a fight and severing the arm of Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus), O-Ren's assistant and a protégée of Bill's. She then fights off all of O-Ren's dozens of henchmen, including the elite "Crazy 88" squad and O-Ren's personal bodyguard, 17-year-old sadist Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama). The Bride allows those few fortunate enough to survive her assault to escape, but orders them to leave any severed limbs behind. The Bride then duels O-Ren in a snow-draped Japanese garden, and kills her, then tortures Sofie by systematic dismemberment into revealing information on Bill. The film ends with Bill holding the deformed Sofie and asking her if The Bride knows that her daughter is still alive.

Cast

  • Uma Thurman as The Bride ("Black Mamba"): The protagonist, a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, and described as "the deadliest woman in the world". She is targeted by her former allies in the wedding chapel massacre, and falls into a coma. When she awakens four years later, she embarks on a deadly trail of revenge against the perpetrators of the massacre.
  • David Carradine as Bill ("Snake Charmer"); who is never seen except his hands, although his voice is heard: The former leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. He is also the former lover of The Bride, and the father of her daughter. He is the final and eponymous target of The Bride's revenge.
  • Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii ("Cottonmouth"): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She later becomes "queen of the Tokyo underworld". She is the first of The Bride's revenge targets.
  • Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green ("Copperhead"): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She later becomes a homemaker living under the false name Jeannie Bell. She is the second of The Bride's revenge targets.
  • Michael Madsen as Budd ("Sidewinder"): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and brother of Bill. He later becomes a bouncer living in a trailer. He is the third of The Bride's revenge targets.
  • Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver ("California Mountain Snake"): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She is the fourth of The Bride's revenge targets.
  • Julie Dreyfus as Sofie Fatale: O-Ren's lawyer, best friend, and second lieutenant. She is also a former protégé of Bill's, and was present at the wedding chapel massacre.
  • Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo: Revered as the greatest swordsmith of all time. Although long retired, he agrees to craft a sword for The Bride when he finds out what vermin she wants to kill.
  • Ambrosia Kelley as Nikki Green, Vernita's 4-year-old daughter; She witnesses The Bride kill her mother, and The Bride offers her a chance to take revenge for it when she gets older, if she still "feels raw about it".
  • Michael Parks as Earl McGraw: A policeman who investigates the wedding chapel massacre.
  • James Parks as Edgar McGraw: The son of Earl McGraw. He is also a policeman.
  • Michael Bowen as Buck: An orderly at the hospital where The Bride lay comatose for four years. He has been selling sexual access to her body, as well as partaking himself.
  • Gordon Liu as Johnny Mo: Head general of O-Ren's personal army; the Crazy 88.
  • Jun Kunimura as Boss Tanaka: A Yakuza who is disgruntled when O-Ren assumes power; when he ridicules O-Ren's nationality, she decapitates him.
  • Chiaki Kuriyama as Gogo Yubari: A sadistic 17-year-old who is O-Ren's personal bodyguard.
  • Sakichi Sato as Charlie Brown: An employee at the House of Blue Leaves who wears a kimono similar in design to the shirt worn by the Peanuts character.

Production

Calvary Baptist Church in Hi Vista, California, used as a filming location

Quentin Tarantino intended to produce Kill Bill as one film. With a budget of $55 million, production lasted 155 days. Harvey Weinstein, then co-chief of Miramax Films, was known for pressuring directors to keep their films' running times short. When Tarantino began editing the film, he and Weinstein agreed to split the film into two. With the approach, Tarantino could edit a fuller film, and Weinstein could have films with reasonable running times. The decision to split Kill Bill into two volumes was announced in July of 2003.[1]

Influences

The overall storyline of Kill Bill is adapted from Lady Snowblood, a 1973 Japanese film in which a woman kills off the gang who murdered her family. The Guardian commented that Lady Snowblood was "practically a template for the whole of Kill Bill Vol. 1".[2] Lady Snowblood was adapted from the manga of the same name written by Kazuo Koike and illustrated by Kazuo Kamimura.

It references the TV show Yagyû ichizoku no inbô (Japanese > "Intrigue of the Yagyu Clan") by quoting a variant of the speech in the show's opening sequence.

Jubei Yagyu (Sonny Chiba) [The Yagyu Conspiracy]: "The Secret Doctrine of Ura Yagyu ("Hidden Yagyu") states: 'Once engaged in battle, fight to win. That is the first and cardinal rule of battle. Suppress all human emotions and compassion. Kill whosoever stands in thy way, even if that be a God or Buddha. Only then can one master the essence of the art. Once it is mastered, thou shall fear no one, though even devils block thy way.'"
Hattori Hanzo XV (Sonny Chiba) [Kill Bill]: "For those regarded as warriors, when engaged in combat the vanquishing of thine enemy can be the warrior's only concern. Suppress all human emotion and compassion. Kill whoever stands in thy way, even if that be Lord God or Buddha himself. This truth lies at the heart of the art of combat."

The film also references Samurai Reincarnation (1981) by quoting its iconic line: "If you encounter God, God will be cut". Hattori Hanzō is modelled on legendary sword maker Muramasa. The character is also a reference to the Japanese television show Kage no Gundan (Shadow Warriors in America), in which Sonny Chiba portrayed a fictionalized version of Hattori Hanzō, as well as his descendants in later seasons. Tarantino, in Vol. 1 special features, claims that his film's Hanzō is one of those descendants.

Kill Bill pays tribute to film genres including the spaghetti western, blaxploitation, Chinese wuxia, Japanese yakuza films, Japanese samurai cinema, and kung fu movies of the 1960s and 1970s. This last genre, which was largely produced by the Shaw Brothers, is given an obvious nod by the inclusion of the Shaw Scope logo at the beginning of Kill Bill Vol. 1.

One influential exploitation film that Tarantino has mentioned in interviews is the Swedish Thriller - en grym film, released in the U.S. as They Call Her One Eye. Tarantino, who has called Thriller "the roughest revenge movie ever made'[3], recommended that actress Daryl Hannah watch the film to prepare for her role as the one-eyed killer Elle Driver.[4]

Music

As with Tarantino's previous films, Kill Bill features an eclectic soundtrack comprising many musical genres. On the two soundtracks, music ranges from country music to selections from the Spaghetti Western film scores of Ennio Morricone. Bernard Herrmann's theme from the film Twisted Nerve is whistled by the menacing Elle Driver in the hospital scene. A brief, 15-second excerpt from the opening of the Ironside theme music by Quincy Jones is used as the Bride's revenge motif, which flares up with a red-tinged flashback whenever she's in the company of her next target.[5] Instrumental tracks from Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei figure prominently, and after the success of Kill Bill they were frequently used in American TV commercials and at sporting events. As the Bride enters "The House of Blue Leaves", go-go group The 5,6,7,8's perform "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield", "I'm Blue" and "Woo Hoo." The connection to Lady Snowblood is further established by the use of "The Flower of Carnage" the closing theme from that film. "The Lonely Shepherd" by pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir plays over the closing credits.

Theatrical release

The State Theater Ann Arbor, MI shows a double feature of Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2

Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released in theaters on October 10, 2003. It was the first Tarantino film in six years since Jackie Brown was released in 1997.[6] In the United States and Canada, Volume 1 was released in 3,102 theaters and grossed $22 million on its opening weekend.[7] It ranked first at the box office, beating School of Rock (in its second weekend) and Intolerable Cruelty (in its first). Volume 1 was the widest theatrical release of Tarantino's career to date,[8] and it was also his highest-grossing opening weekend to date. Previously, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction (the latter released in 1994) had each grossed $9.3 million on their opening weekends.[6] Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, said Volume 1's opening weekend gross was significant for a "very genre specific and very violent" film that in the United States was restricted to theatergoers 17 years old and up.[8] According to the studio, exit polls showed that 90% of the audience was interested in seeing the second volume after seeing the first.[9]

Outside the United States and Canada, Kill Bill Volume 1 was released in 20 territories. The film outperformed its main competitor Intolerable Cruelty in Norway, Denmark and Finland, though it ranked second in Italy. Volume 1 had a record opening in Japan, though expectations were higher due to the film being partially set there and having homages to Japanese martial arts. The film had "a muted entry" in the United Kingdom and Germany due to being restricted to theatergoers 18 years old and up, but "experienced acceptable drops" after its opening weekend in the two territories. By November 2, 2003, it had made $31 million in the 20 territories.[10] Kill Bill Volume 1 grossed a total of $70 million in the United States and Canada and $110.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $180.9 million.[7]

Critical reception

For Volume 1, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 85% based on reviews from 218 critics and reports a rating average of 7.7 out of 10. It reported the overall consensus, "Kill Bill is nothing more than a highly stylized revenge flick. But what style!"[11] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 85 based on 43 reviews.[12]

A. O. Scott of The New York Times said Tarantino's previous films Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown were "an exploration of plausible characters and authentic emotions". He wrote of Kill Bill Volume 1, "Now, it seems, his interests have swung in the opposite direction, and he has immersed himself, his characters and his audience in a highly artificial world, a looking-glass universe that reflects nothing beyond his own cinematic obsessions." Scott attributed "the hurtling incoherence of the story" to Tarantino's sampling of different genres that include spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation, and Asian action films. The critic summarized, "But while being so relentlessly exposed to a filmmaker's idiosyncratic turn-ons can be tedious and off-putting, the undeniable passion that drives Kill Bill is fascinating, even, strange to say it, endearing. Mr. Tarantino is an irrepressible showoff, recklessly flaunting his formal skills as a choreographer of high-concept violence, but he is also an unabashed cinephile, and the sincerity of his enthusiasm gives this messy, uneven spectacle an odd, feverish integrity."[13]

Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times called Kill Bill Volume 1 "a blood-soaked valentine to movies" and wrote, "It's apparent that Tarantino is striving for more than an off-the-rack mash note or a pastiche of golden oldies. It is, rather, his homage to movies shot in celluloid and wide, wide, wide, wide screen—an ode to the time right before movies were radically secularized." Dargis said, "This kind of mad movie love explains Tarantino's approach and ambitions, and it also points to his limitations as a filmmaker," calling the abundance of references sometimes distracting. She recognized Tarantino's technical talent but thought Kill Bill Volume 1's appeal was too limited to popular culture references, calling the film's story "the least interesting part of the whole equation".[14]

Cultural historian Maud Lavin argues that The Bride's embodiment of murderous revenge taps into viewers' personal fantasies of committing violence. For audiences, particularly women viewers, this overly aggressive female character provides a complex site for identification with one's own aggression.[15]

Accolades

Each part was nominated at the Golden Globe Awards. Uma Thurman received a Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama nomination in 2004 and 2005 for her work in Volume 1 and Volume 2. David Carradine received a Best Supporting Actor nomination in 2005 for his work as the mentor-like titular character in Kill Bill: Volume 2. Uma Thurman was also nominated in 2004 for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her work in 'Kill Bill: Volume 1.' The film was nominated for 5 BAFTAs at the 2004 BAFTA awards ceremony.

The film was very popular at the MTV Movie Awards. At the 2004 MTV Movie Awards, Thurman won Best Female performance for Volume 1, Liu won Best Villain in Volume 1, and the fight between The Bride and Gogo Yubari won Best Fight. Thurman also thanked Chiaki Kuriyama during her acceptance speech. At the 2005 MTV Movie Awards, Kill Bill Volume 2 was nominated for Best Movie, Thurman was nominated for best female performance, and the fight between The Bride and Elle Driver in Kill Bill Volume 2 also won Best Fight. Thurman also received the Saturn Award for Best Actress in 2003 for her work in Volume 1. The Bride was also ranked number 66 in Empire magazine's "100 Greatest Movie Characters".[16]

Home release

In the United States, Volume 1 was released on DVD on April 13, 2004, the week before Volume 2 was released in theaters.

In a December 2005 interview, Tarantino addressed the lack of a special edition DVD for Kill Bill by stating "I've been holding off because I've been working on it for so long that I just wanted a year off from Kill Bill and then I'll do the big supplementary DVD package."[17]

The United States does not have a DVD boxed set of Kill Bill, though box sets of the two separate volumes are available in other countries, such as France, Japan and the United Kingdom. Upon the DVD release of Volume 2 in the US, however, Best Buy did offer an exclusive box set slipcase to house the two individual releases together.[18]

Volume 1, along with Volume 2, was released in High Definition on Blu-ray on September 9, 2008 in the United States.

See also


References

  1. ^ Snyder, Gabriel (07-15-2003). "Double 'Kill' bill". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117889372. 
  2. ^ [1], Rose, Steve. "Found: where Tarantino gets his ideas", The Guardian, 2004–04–06. Retrieved on 2006-09-25
  3. ^ Daniel Ekeroth: SWEDISH SENSATIONSFILMS: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema, (Bazillion Points, 2011) ISBN 978-09796163-6-5.
  4. ^ [2], Tomohiro Machiyama. "QUENTIN TARANTINO reveals almost everything that inspired KILL BILL", JapAttack.com, 2003–08–28. Retrieved on 2007-09-11
  5. ^ http://www.soundtrack.net/albums/database/?id=3356
  6. ^ a b Downey, Ryan J. (October 13, 2003). "'Kill Bill' Slays Box-Office Competition". MTV. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1479716/kill-bill-takes-1-slot.jhtml. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b "Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)". Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=killbill.htm. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b Ogunnaike, Lola (October 13, 2003). "Gory 'Kill Bill' Tops Weekend Box Office". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/13/movies/gory-kill-bill-tops-weekend-box-office.html. 
  9. ^ Cooper, Andrew (October 12, 2003). "Tarantino makes a box office killing". USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2003-10-12-box-office_x.htm. 
  10. ^ Groves, Don (November 2, 2003). "'Kill Bill,' 'Cruelty' seesaw across globe". Variety. http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117894882. 
  11. ^ "Kill Bill: Volume 1". Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/kill_bill_vol_1/. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Kill Bill: Vol. 1". Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/kill-bill-vol-1. Retrieved June 29, 2011. 
  13. ^ Scott, A. O. (October 10, 2003). "Film Review; Blood Bath & Beyond". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9804E6D7163FF933A25753C1A9659C8B63.  (Metacritic Score: 70)
  14. ^ Dargis, Manohla (October 10, 2003). "Kill Bill Vol. 1". Los Angeles Times. http://www.calendarlive.com/cl-et-dargis10oct10,0,7714331.story.  (Metacritic Score: 70)
  15. ^ Lavin, Maud (2010). "Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women", p. 123. MIT Press, Cambridge. ISBN 9780262123099.
  16. ^ http://www.empireonline.com/100-greatest-movie-characters/default.asp?c=66
  17. ^ "Tarantino Brings Kill Bills Together". ContactMusic.com. December 21, 2005. http://www.contactmusic.com/new/xmlfeed.nsf/mndwebpages/tarantino%20brings%20kill%20bills%20together. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 
  18. ^ "Best DVD Packaging of 2004". DVD Talk. http://www.dvdtalk.com/features/best_dvd_packag.html. Retrieved 2007-06-11. 

External links


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