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Kill Bill: Vol. 1′ slices its way onto DVD

Brandon Hollihan | Monday, April 26, 2004

What more can be said about the groundbreaking film of 2003 that captivated audiences with its flashy scenery and costuming, state-of-the-art cinematic technique and gratuitous amounts of blood, shed from world class, Samurai-inspired Yakuza gangsters?Well, quite a bit, if you were one of those dissatisfied, or even disenchanted, by the bleakness of the film’s characters, or perhaps even the violence, which, while fantastic (and an absolute must for a Quentin Tarantino film), becomes burdensome as the film approaches its climax.In “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” Uma Thurman plays ‘The Bride,’ an assassin left for dead by her lover/leader Bill (David Carradine), along with four other members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. This movie chronicles The Bride’s assault upon her first two targets: O-ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), a Chinese American who sliced her way to the top of the Yakuza, and Vernita Green (Vivaca A. Fox), a former assassin turned stay-at-home mom. That pretty much sums up the plot, with multiple details characterized through different styles. For example, the ultra-violent animated sequence retelling O-ren’s history, or the brightly lit shots in El Paso, the sight of the attempted murder on The Bride. One great thing about the film is that there’s an obvious purpose for setting all the different scenes with their own distinct style, and yet they all fit the bigger picture of The Bride exacting her revenge. I couldn’t help but watch the long take in the House of Blue Leaves several times, just because of the way it synchs up all the different plot points. In fact, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” does so well at telling the story through imagery, it sometimes exposes the fairly bland script the actors work with. The acting itself is fine, but it’s nothing special, mostly just proclamation and exposition, in need of stinging dialogue and expression.The explicit violence in “Vol. 1” is an entirely separate issue. Yes, it needs to be true to Tarantino’s vision, but it wore itself down from shocking to anticipated. Everyone seems to discuss the Crazy 88’s sequence at the dining hall table, but it appears to merely be “Matrix: Reloaded” with blood. Granted, the lighting, staging, and sound were brilliant, but ripping off the wire scheme from “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” didn’t help matters.Despite this, Tarantino is highly acclaimed for his cinematography. His work deserves a look, but probably not on this particular DVD. The DVD is little more than an advertisement for “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” and it supports the argument that the entire series could have been completely told in a single film – but I understand how difficult it is to pass up on easy cash.”Kill Bill” fans should be patient and wait until a two-disc or special edition version of the entire series is released at some point in the future. There is no need to quickly indulge yourself now.