It’s 2003. A Mexican kid, casual filmgoer, raised by loving parents with terrible taste in cinema, rents Tarantino's most recent offering. Two hours later, something’s changed in him.
A wedding rehearsal is cut short when the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (or DiVAS) bursts in to kill former member Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) and her loved ones. Kiddo, a trained killer, survives the attack. Her former mentor and lover, Bill (David Carradine, appearing only in voice and silhouette), shoots her in the head and she still doesn’t die (although she slips into a four-year coma). A mosquito bite wakes her, and she’s ready to go on a “roaring rampage of revenge”.
Drawing inspiration from spaghetti westerns (“The Bride” sometimes strikes me as a female version of Clint Eastwood's cool, tough cowboys) and blending in elements of Japanese culture, Bruce Lee movies, The Green Hornet and even Peanuts, Quentin Tarantino’s fourth film features (of course) great dialogue and works as a platform for extraordinary performances from actresses you normally wouldn’t expect (hi, Lucy Liu and Vivica A. Fox!)
After a stunningly violent opening sequence, Quentin, ever the music connoisseur, leads us into his movie to the tune of Nancy Sinatra's ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’, marrying song and film for eternity. Music, like in most of his films, plays a major role. The director, aided by Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, made an eclectic selection of songs that include Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Twisted Nerve’ and Tomoyasu Hotei’s ‘Battle Without Honor or Humanity’, two tracks that also will forever be associated with the movie.
The second person on Beatrix’s list, but the first we actually see her kill, is Vernita Green (A. Fox). After she offs Vernita with one swift throw of the knife, you're almost sorry their scheduled fight will never take place. Not to worry, though. There's a rumor that little Nikki, who witnessed the murder of her mother, will come back for revenge in a possible third chapter. Let's hope she inherited her mom's dirty mouth and talent for battle.
Elle Driver, fourth on the list, played by a gorgeous Daryl Hannah in nurse attire (complete with eye patch), is one of the images that defined my early adolescence, something I doodled on every sheet of paper or blackboard I crossed paths with. It’s impossible to see her and not whistle the aforementioned Twisted Nerve, pretty much her leitmotiv.
But this is, undoubtedly, Uma’s show. She is all business in the definitive role of her career, "The Bride" a.k.a. Beatrix Kiddo a.k.a. Black Mamba, a character she developed alongside the director who catapulted her to international stardom with 1994's Pulp Fiction. She gives a powerful, vastly underrated performance, whether she's wrestling Vernita Green in her own living room (a flawlessly choreographed scene), trying to "wiggle her big toe" or Hattori Hanzo-ing her way through dozens of Japanese henchmen before slicing O-Ren Ishii's (Liu) scalp off.
You’ve got to love Tarantino’s little quirks: the Charlie Brown kimono, how he bleeps out the name “Beatrix” so he can reveal it in the sequel, and how he subliminally tells it using the catchphrase made famous in the commercials for “Trix” cereal. Speaking of cereal, how awesome is that Vernita keeps a gun hidden in a box of aptly named “Kaboom”?
The film's climactic showdown is a 30-minute, exhilarating gorefest. A crimson version of those big dance numbers in old musicals but with swords instead of tap shoes. As “The Bride” said, this is "bloody satisfaction" at its finest. Oh, and that last line? Greatest cliffhanger ever. I’d suggest you watch Vol. 2 (a great movie in its own right) for closure.
I’m fully aware Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is not a perfect film, but it holds a special place in my heart for kick-starting my passion for cinema, opening my mind to a world of possibilities and creativity and teaching me that film is an ever-changing, all-inclusive art form that doesn’t discriminate and is able to inspire and ignite an undying love. I watch it now with nostalgia; a reminder of a time when a passion that lurked deep inside could finally run free and permeate every corner of my personality. My name is Fernando and I love movies.
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