Movie Review
Kill Bill: Volume 1
Kill Bill 1 poster
By Lee Tistaert     Published October 11, 2003
US Release: October 10, 2003

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino
Starring: Uma Thurman , David Carradine , Daryl Hannah , Michael Madsen

R for strong bloody violence, language and some sexual content.
Running Time: 110 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $70,098,138
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May very well go down as one of the coolest films ever made.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think Kill Bill would be this good. I walked into the theater with good expectations, anticipating a potentially fun and entertaining movie, and came out blown away at what Tarantino had done. Kill Bill is not about much and yet delivers on more levels than anything else this year.

I consider Pulp Fiction to be a near masterpiece (A), with Reservoir Dogs being very good (B+), and Jackie Brown somewhat disappointing even if it?s well made (B). With Kill Bill, Tarantino takes a backseat on the story element (that he usually utilizes to potential) and still amazes with a film that is really about how stylistic a movie can go.

Some would ponder whether or not this feature is an example of style over substance, and yet in my book, the style can almost be interpreted as substance. Kill Bill is pure cinematic art, meant for the filmgoers who ever wondered if it was humanly possible for an all-action film to accomplish anything other than being fun. 2002?s Ballistic (D) was a non-stop action movie that happened to be terrible, with a horrible script, direction, and acting.

With Kill Bill, the film had a very slight chance of conquering that territory of pointlessness but is rescued by Tarantino, who has almost carried this film on a genius level. For two hours I was stunned at the lack of a plot and the fact that I still couldn?t take my eyes off the screen ? not since Signs has a movie rocked my world this much.

Uma Therman stars as Black Mamba, an assassin who is attacked on her wedding day by her infamous group leader, Bill (David Carradine); waking up from a coma years later, Black Mamba decides to seek revenge. With that thin plot, we are looking at what could have easily been one of the stupidest films of this year, but with Tarantino, the solid chance of guilty pleasure fun if not a well made movie.

With Kill Bill, we learn from the filmmaker that story doesn?t always matter, and that a movie can go without a story and still achieve near brilliance. The film has a theme ? and a Shakespearian one (of revenge) ? and it is that theme that drives the enthusiasm level for its entire duration. The film is packed with gorgeous cinematography, hip and ultra-cool music, exciting fight sequences, and a story that actually induces enthusiasm despite the morbid nature of our main character.

Though not many appreciated Rules of Attraction (A-), I felt that even though the characters in that film were not overly likable, they were fascinating to me; and with Kill Bill, it was the fascination that led the experience to be grand in scale. I always try to rate movies appropriately to what they accomplish, as even fun action movies can simply be ?B-? or ?B? films in my book simply because they are fun but nothing more.

With Kill Bill, the accomplishment is that the feature is more than just a supremely entertaining film ? it is a fantastically directed, very well acted, and superbly shot epic. The film wins an award for not carrying a plot and accomplishing everything else there is to achieve. For anyone who has ever seen a good kung-fu flick or any good action film for that matter, and wanted to see the coolness factor of those projects extended for an entire running time, Kill Bill is the dream film.

The feature is Therman?s movie and she more than carries it, with a performance that may even be worthy of a nomination despite the awkwardness that that might present. Lucy Liu, who plays one of Bill?s assassins (who was coincidentally in Ballistic), does not carry an overly impressive role but is impressive in that she?s actually in a movie of this caliber ? she?s tolerable, which can be a filmmaking achievement of its own.

Kill Bill is all about revenge and the determination someone can have to make certain that that path is taken. By the end of the experience my adrenaline was pumping, ready to see volume two, and even wanting to see the film again. If there was one movie so far this year to see with a packed, insane crowd, Kill Bill even rises over Matrix Reloaded on that scale. For film fans, this is the flick to see this year, and may very well go down as one of the coolest films ever made.
Lee's Grade: B+
Ranked #1 of 132 between Lost in Translation (#2) and (#) for 2003 movies.
Lee's Overall Grading: 3025 graded movies
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'Kill Bill 1' Articles
  • Jennifer's review A-
    October 15, 2003    Simply awesome. -- Jennifer Alpeche
  • Greg's review A
    October 12, 2003    Truly a film for movie lovers such as myself. -- Greg Ward
  • Gareth's review B-
    October 10, 2003    A dazzling combination of action and visuals that will delight some and frustrate others who are looking for more depth. -- Gareth Von Kallenbach