30 Movies in 30 Days: Kill Bill Vol. 1

Had I seen it before: No.

Year: 2003

Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino, with another writing credit for Uma Thurman for writing the character The Bride (credited as U)

Where you can stream it now: Hulu (leaves on June 29) or Showtime

What IMDb says: After awakening from a four-year coma, a former assassin wreaks vengeance on the team of assassins who betrayed her.

Why I picked it: The Kill Bill movies as well as Tarantino’s general catalog have been on my list for a while. Upon learning they’d be leaving Hulu soon, I figured it was time to get on that.

What I liked: I love how Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a movie thoroughly committed to its premise. It’s an over-the-top martial arts movie and it’s as over-the-top as it needs to be to make that concept fun. The fight sequences are also incredibly well done, and many would still work just fine as standalone shorts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better case for why stunt coordinators need to be recognized at the Oscars.

What I didn’t like: Look, I get that this just isn’t really intended for my personal tastes, but I really wish there was more story to back up the fight sequences. One of my favorite scenes of the whole thing is one of the earliest in the movie, where Uma Thurman and Vivica A. Fox are kicking each other’s asses, plus some classic Tarantino comic relief when Fox’s character’s daughter enters. It annoys me how I don’t feel like I became any more invested in the later fight scenes than I was in this earlier scene. As good as the fight scenes are, it eventually started to feel like I was just watching the same stuff over and over again. I know this sort of thing is fun for some people, but for me, the fun factor fades away within the first hour and I spent the second hour asking “okay, but where are we going with this?” This isn’t helped by the fact that we see The Bride cross off O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) off her list in the beginning of the movie. We go into this final battle knowing that The Bride will triumph, and I think that diffused the tension this scene could have had otherwise.

I’m torn on how hard I should really be on this movie because it is Vol. 1 of a 2-part story. I’ll be watching Vol. 2 tomorrow, and perhaps enough details will come to light to put more of a focus on this first part. Yet there’s still a part of me that says “okay, but they DID decided to make this into two separate movies, so it’s totally fair to judge it as two separate movies.” And Tarantino clearly tried to give it a proper climax at the end, however that climax is partially undermined since The Bride already told us she killed Ishii earlier in the movie.

Will I watch it again: It might be worth a re-watch after I see Vol. 2 and can better see what Vol. 1 was trying to set up. After that, I don’t know that I’ll return to it much after that. It’s not really what I would go for when I’m in the mood for a just-for-fun movie, nor is it the kind of story I’d go for when I want something heavier.

Who would enjoy it: People who can’t get enough awesome action sequences.

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