Saturday, June 07, 2008

Kill Bill, Volume 1

I really, really didn't like "Kill Bill Vol. 1." Finally caught it a few days ago.

I remember enjoying both "Pulp Fiction" and "Jackie Brown" very much, so this surprised me.

Anyway, here's a few thoughts.

The movie starts out really well. I love the interruption of the fight scene by the little girl. Lovely stuff. There was nothing that even vaguely came to that same level again, the rest of the movie.

I understand Tarantino was showing off his genre abilities or whatever. So there's the "blaxpoitation" stuff in the first bit, which then switches to Japanese kung-fu movies or whatever. But putting a bunch of different genres in a film threatens to make the whole thing not hang together at all. And that's what happened here.

The huge fight scene between Uma and all of the minions of Lucy Liu's character could make sense, within the context of the particular type of movie that this section of the movie is shot in. It's a kung-fu movie, so within that context, it "makes sense" that: Uma has to take on all of the bad guys, in order; nobody is allowed to just get out a gun and shoot her in the back; the different minion types all take her on in order; the hero faces impossible odds made more impossible at every turn; Lucy Liu herself doesn't join in any of the attacks but waits until all the others have failed; etc. That's just the way the genre goes. If we're within a kung-fu movie, then fine, I could have let all that go. But we're not in a kung-fu movie. We're in a movie where guns do exist and are used to try to kill the heroine. We're in a movie where the heroine is raped (presumably multiple times) while she's in a hospital. There's some gritty / Tarantino-ish "realism" in those scenes. And having watched those scenes, and learned that I was in that kind of movie, I found the perpetual mayhem of the kung-fu scene just ... off. Wrong. And because of that, really boring. I honestly couldn't watch the whole big fight scene, I kept fast-forwarding in hopes that something else was going to happen. But nope, nothing but blood and killing and more blood and more killing.

And the blood and the killing made no sense within the context of the rest of the movie. Uma's character makes a lot of notions of justice, what people deserve, what's fair. She explains to the blaxploitation "Viper" that in order to get "square" in light of what's been done to Uma, Uma would have to kill her, her child, and her husband. And that she can never just let it go. It's like she thinks she has the right to do this, that morality or whatever is on her side. And then again, in order to get the awesome sword, she has to guilt the Japanese teacher, saying that he has a responsibility to help her kill Bill, because Bill is just so bad. OK, fine, whatever. But all of that moralizing doesn't fit at all with the kung fu movie part at all. How many dozens of innocent people have to be killed? Why doesn't she plan an attack on the Lucy Liu character that's more, I don't know, "assassin" like and less mayhem-filled. Yes, I know, it's because Tarantino wants to make a huge kung-fu fight scene, complete with all the cliches. But it doesn't work, because the parts don't fit together. The cliches of the "moralistic assassin out for revenge" movie just don't work with the cliches of the "uber-barroom brawl with kung-fu style antics" movie.

You could say this is all my problem. I just lack the cutting edge awesomeness of Tarantino, who split up the movie so that the parts "make sense" within their own worlds, but not with respect to the rest of the movie. The movie is schizophrenic, I guess, and I couldn't make myself schizophrenic enough to go with it.

Also, I could just not forget that I was watching Lucy Liu up there. I didn't buy her in her role for one second. But meh, whatever, that's never been the type of criticism of a movie that I think is much worth making, in general.

Not sure whether to bother watching "Volume 2" or not. The reviews are better for Volume 2 (says metacritic dot com), so maybe I'll give it a chance to get better.

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