Kill Bill Volume 1
|Kill Bill: Volume 1|
|Directed by||Quentin Tarantino|
|Produced by||Lawrence Bender|
|Written by||Quentin Tarantino|
|Story by||Quentin Tarantino
(character The Bride)
|Music by||The RZA|
|Edited by||Sally Menke|
|A Band Apart|
|Distributed by||Miramax Films
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
|Running time||111 minutes|
Kill Bill: Volume 1 is a 2003 American action/thriller film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is the first of two films that were theatrically released several months apart, the second one titled Kill Bill Volume 2.
Kill Bill was originally scheduled for a single theatrical release, but with a running time of over four hours, it was separated into two volumes. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released in late 2003, and Kill Bill: Volume 2 was released in early 2004. The two films are frequently referred to collectively as simply "Kill Bill."
They follow a character initially identified as "The Bride", a former member of an assassination team who seeks revenge on her ex-colleagues who massacred members of her wedding party and tried to kill her. The movie is often noted for its stylish direction and its homages to film genres such as Hong Kong martial arts films, Japanese chanbara films, anime, Italian spaghetti westerns, girls with guns, and rape and revenge.
An intertitle displays the "Old Klingon Proverb" "Revenge is a dish best served cold". A pregnant woman (Uma Thurman), known as "The Bride", lies badly wounded at her wedding, telling an unseen Bill (David Carradine) that she is carrying his baby as Bill shoots her in the head.
The Bride, having apparently survived, appears at the home of Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and fights her, but they cease after Vernita's young daughter Nikki arrives from school. It is revealed that both women are former members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, elite assassins under the employ of Bill. Bill and the Deadly Vipers had attacked The Bride at her wedding. While the two women are talking in the kitchen during their truce, Vernita attempts to kill The Bride with a pistol hidden in a box of "Kaboom" cereal. The shot misses the Bride, who retaliates by throwing a knife into Vernita's chest; she dies slowly. When the Bride notices Nikki standing in the doorway, she offers Nikki revenge should she seek it as an adult, then leaves. The Bride then strikes Vernita's name off a checklist; the name "O-Ren Ishii" has already been crossed out.
In a flashback it is revealed that the Bride survived the headshot, but was left comatose for four years. While she is in her coma, we see another member of the Deadly Vipers, the one-eyed Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), enters The Bride's hospital room where she lies comatose, and prepares a lethal injection. Driver is interrupted by Bill on the phone, who states they will take action only if she awakes. Four years later, the Bride awakens and is horrified to discover that she is no longer pregnant. Meanwhile, she learns that a hospital worker named Buck has been raping her in her comatose state, and accepting cash from those who wish the chance to do the same. While a trucker is preparing to assault her, the Bride bites off his tongue, killing him. She then incapacitates and kills Buck by repeatedly smashing his head between a door and its jamb, and steals Buck's truck. She swears revenge, and picks her first target: O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), who has since become the leader of the Tokyo yakuza.
Once she recovers, the Bride travels to Okinawa to obtain a sword from legendary swordsmith Hattori Hanzō (Sonny Chiba), who has sworn never to forge a sword again. After learning that her target is his former student, Bill, he agrees he is morally obligated to forge his finest sword for her. The Bride tracks down O-Ren at a Tokyo nightclub, challenging her to a fight and severing the arm of Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus), O-Ren's assistant and a protégée of Bill's. She then fights off O-Ren's Yakuza army, including the elite "Crazy 88" squad and O-Ren's personal bodyguard, 17-year-old sadist Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama), before dueling O-Ren in a snow-draped Japanese garden and killing her. She finally tortures Sofie into revealing information about Bill, leaving Sofie alive to tell Bill that the Bride is coming to kill him and the others. Bill asks Sofie whether the Bride knows that her daughter is, in fact, still alive.
- Uma Thurman as The Bride (Black Mamba): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who is described as "the deadliest woman in the world". She is targeted by her former allies in the wedding chapel massacre, and falls into a coma. When she awakens four years later, she embarks on a deadly trail of revenge against the perpetrators of the massacre.
- David Carradine as Bill (Snake Charmer); who is never seen except his hands, although his voice is heard: The former leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. He is also the former lover of The Bride, and the father of her daughter. He is the final and eponymous target of The Bride's revenge.
- Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She later becomes "Queen of the Tokyo underworld". She is the first of The Bride's revenge targets.
- Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green (Copperhead): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She later becomes a homemaker living under the false name Jeannie Bell. She is the second of The Bride's revenge targets.
- Michael Madsen as Budd (Sidewinder): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and brother of Bill. He later becomes a bouncer living in a trailer. He is the third of The Bride's revenge targets.
- Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake): A former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She is the fourth of The Bride's revenge targets.
- Julie Dreyfus as Sofie Fatale: O-Ren's lawyer, best friend, and second lieutenant. She is also a former protégé of Bill's, and was present at the wedding chapel massacre.
- Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo: Revered as the greatest swordsmith of all time. Although long retired, he agrees to craft a sword for The Bride when he finds out what vermin she wants to kill.
- Kenji Ohba as Shiro: Hattori Hanzo's employee.
- Ambrosia Kelley as Nikki Bell, Vernita's 4-year-old daughter; She witnesses The Bride killing her mother, and The Bride offers her a chance to take revenge for it when she gets older, if she still "feels raw about it".
- Michael Parks as Earl McGraw: A policeman who investigates the wedding chapel massacre.
- James Parks as Edgar McGraw: The son of Earl McGraw. He is also a policeman.
- Michael Bowen as Buck: An orderly at the hospital where The Bride lay comatose for four years. He has been selling sexual access to her body, as well as partaking himself.
- Gordon Liu as Johnny Mo: Head general of O-Ren's personal army; the Crazy 88. The Bride fights him several times during the battle at House of Blue Leaves before she apparently kills him.
- Jun Kunimura as Boss Tanaka: A Yakuza who is disgruntled when O-Ren assumes power; when he ridicules O-Ren's nationality, she decapitates him.
- Chiaki Kuriyama as Gogo Yubari: A sadistic 17-year-old who is O-Ren's personal bodyguard.
- Sakichi Sato as Charlie Brown: An employee at the House of Blue Leaves who wears a kimono similar in design to the shirt worn by the Peanuts character.
- Yuki Kazamatsuri as Proprietor of the House of Blue Leaves.
- The Band The 18.104.22.168's (Sachiko Fuji, Yoshiko Yamaguchi and Ronnie Yoshiko Fujiyama) as Themselves.
Quentin Tarantino intended to produce Kill Bill as one film. With a budget of $55 million, production lasted 155 days. Harvey Weinstein, then co-chief of Miramax Films, was known for pressuring directors to keep their films' running times short. When Tarantino began editing the film, he and Weinstein agreed to split the film into two. With the approach, Tarantino could edit a fuller film, and Weinstein could have films with reasonable running times. The decision to split Kill Bill into two volumes was announced in July 2003.
The overall storyline of Kill Bill is adapted from Lady Snowblood, a 1973 Japanese film in which a woman kills off the gang who murdered her family. The Guardian commented that Lady Snowblood was "practically a template for the whole of Kill Bill Vol. 1".
It references the TV show Yagyū ichizoku no inbō (Japanese for "Intrigue of the Yagyu Clan") by quoting a variant of the speech in the show's opening sequence.
- Jubei Yagyu (Sonny Chiba) [The Yagyu Conspiracy]: "The Secret Doctrine of Ura Yagyu ("Hidden Yagyu") states: 'Once engaged in battle, fight to win. That is the first and cardinal rule of battle. Suppress all human emotions and compassion. Kill whosoever stands in thy way, even if that be a God or Buddha. Only then can one master the essence of the art. Once it is mastered, thou shall fear no one, though even devils block thy way.'"
- Hattori Hanzo XIV (Sonny Chiba) [Kill Bill]: "For those regarded as warriors, when engaged in combat the vanquishing of thine enemy can be the warrior's only concern. Suppress all human emotion and compassion. Kill whoever stands in thy way, even if that be Lord God or Buddha himself. This truth lies at the heart of the art of combat."
The film also references Samurai Reincarnation (1981) by quoting its iconic line: "If you encounter God, God will be cut". Hattori Hanzō is modelled on legendary swordmaker Masamune. The character is also a reference to the Japanese television show Kage no Gundan (Shadow Warriors in America), in which Sonny Chiba portrayed a fictionalized version of the 16th century samurai Hattori Hanzō, as well as his descendants in later seasons. Tarantino, in Vol. 1 special features, claims that his film's Hanzō is one of those descendants.
Kill Bill pays tribute to film genres including the spaghetti western, blaxploitation, Chinese wuxia, Japanese yakuza films, Japanese samurai cinema, and kung fu movies of the 1960s and 1970s. This last genre, which was largely produced by the Shaw Brothers, is given an obvious nod by the inclusion of the Shaw Scope logo at the beginning of Kill Bill Vol. 1.
One influential exploitation film that Tarantino has mentioned in interviews is the Swedish Thriller – A Cruel Picture, released in the U.S. as They Call Her One Eye. Tarantino, who has called Thriller "the roughest revenge movie ever made", recommended that actress Daryl Hannah watch the film to prepare for her role as the one-eyed killer Elle Driver.
Before the end of the list of credits there is a list of names under R.I.P. that mentions further influences, including Charles Bronson, Chang Cheh, Kinji Fukasaku, Sergio Leone, LoLieh and Shintaro Katsu.
As with Tarantino's previous films, Kill Bill features an eclectic soundtrack comprising many musical genres. On the two soundtracks, music ranges from country music to selections from the Spaghetti Western film scores of Ennio Morricone. Bernard Herrmann's theme from the film Twisted Nerve is whistled by the menacing Elle Driver in the hospital scene. A brief, 15-second excerpt from the opening of the Ironside theme music by Quincy Jones is used as the Bride's revenge motif, which flares up with a red-tinged flashback whenever she is in the company of her next target. Instrumental tracks from Japanese guitarist Tomoyasu Hotei figure prominently, and after the success of Kill Bill they were frequently used in American TV commercials and at sporting events. As the Bride enters "The House of Blue Leaves", go-go group The 5,6,7,8's perform "I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield", "I'm Blue (The Gong-Gong Song)" and "Woo Hoo". The connection to Lady Snowblood is further established by the use of "The Flower of Carnage" the closing theme from that film. James Last's "The Lonely Shepherd" by pan flute virtuoso Gheorghe Zamfir plays over the closing credits.
Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released in theaters on October 10, 2003. It was the first Tarantino film in six years since Jackie Brown was released in 1997. In the United States and Canada, Volume 1 was released in 3,102 theaters and grossed $22 million on its opening weekend. It ranked first at the box office, beating School of Rock (in its second weekend) and Intolerable Cruelty (in its first). Volume 1 was the widest theatrical release of Tarantino's career to date, and it was also his highest-grossing opening weekend to date. Previously, Jackie Brown and Pulp Fiction (the latter released in 1994) had each grossed $9.3 million on their opening weekends. Paul Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations, said Volume 1's opening weekend gross was significant for a "very genre specific and very violent" film that in the United States was restricted to theatergoers 17 years old and up. According to the studio, exit polls showed that 90% of the audience was interested in seeing the second volume after seeing the first.
Outside the United States and Canada, Kill Bill Volume 1 was released in 20 territories. The film outperformed its main competitor Intolerable Cruelty in Norway, Denmark and Finland, though it ranked second in Italy. Volume 1 had a record opening in Japan, though expectations were higher due to the film being partially set there and having homages to Japanese martial arts. The film had "a muted entry" in the United Kingdom and Germany due to being restricted to theatergoers 18 years old and up, but "experienced acceptable drops" after its opening weekend in the two territories. By November 2, 2003, it had made $31 million in the 20 territories. Kill Bill Volume 1 grossed a total of $70 million in the United States and Canada and $110.9 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $180.9 million.
Kill Bill: Volume 1 received positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 85% based on reviews from 224 critics and reports a rating average of 7.7 out of 10. Its consensus among critics is, "Kill Bill is nothing more than a highly stylized revenge flick. But what style!" At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film received an average score of 69 based on 43 reviews.
A. O. Scott of The New York Times said Tarantino's previous films Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown were "an exploration of plausible characters and authentic emotions". He wrote of Kill Bill Volume 1, "Now, it seems, his interests have swung in the opposite direction, and he has immersed himself, his characters and his audience in a highly artificial world, a looking-glass universe that reflects nothing beyond his own cinematic obsessions." Scott attributed "the hurtling incoherence of the story" to Tarantino's sampling of different genres that include spaghetti westerns, blaxploitation, and Asian action films. The critic summarized, "But while being so relentlessly exposed to a filmmaker's idiosyncratic turn-ons can be tedious and off-putting, the undeniable passion that drives Kill Bill is fascinating, even, strange to say it, endearing. Mr. Tarantino is an irrepressible showoff, recklessly flaunting his formal skills as a choreographer of high-concept violence, but he is also an unabashed cinephile, and the sincerity of his enthusiasm gives this messy, uneven spectacle an odd, feverish integrity."
Manohla Dargis of the Los Angeles Times called Kill Bill Volume 1 "a blood-soaked valentine to movies" and wrote, "It's apparent that Tarantino is striving for more than an off-the-rack mash note or a pastiche of golden oldies. It is, rather, his homage to movies shot in celluloid and wide, wide, wide, wide screen—an ode to the time right before movies were radically secularized." Dargis said, "This kind of mad movie love explains Tarantino's approach and ambitions, and it also points to his limitations as a filmmaker," calling the abundance of references sometimes distracting. She recognized Tarantino's technical talent but thought Kill Bill Volume 1's appeal was too limited to popular culture references, calling the film's story "the least interesting part of the whole equation".
Cultural historian Maud Lavin argues that The Bride's embodiment of murderous revenge taps into viewers' personal fantasies of committing violence. For audiences, particularly women viewers, this overly aggressive female character provides a complex site for identification with one's own aggression.
Uma Thurman received a Golden Globe Best Actress nomination in 2004. She was also nominated in 2004 for a BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, in addition with four other BAFTA nominations. Kill Bill: Vol.1 was placed in Empire Magazine's list of the 500 Greatest Films of All Time at number 325 and the Bride was also ranked number 66 in Empire magazine's "100 Greatest Movie Characters".
In the Robot Chicken episode "The Deep End," Jesus Christ hunts down his greatest nemesis, the Easter Bunny, "Tarantino-style" in "Kill Bunny", while also hunting down Santa Claus (in the place of O-Ren Ishii) and the "Crazy Jews" (a parody of the Crazy 88 composing only of rabbis).
Kill Buljo is a 2007 Norwegian parody of the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill. It is set in Finnmark, Norway and portrays the protagonist Jompa Tormann's hunt for Tampa and Papa Buljo. The film depends heavily on satirizing stereotypes about Norway's Sami population. According to the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet, Quentin Tarantino himself has watched the film's trailer and was quite happy about it, looking forward to seeing the film itself.
In a December 2005 interview, Tarantino addressed the lack of a special edition DVD for Kill Bill by stating "I've been holding off because I've been working on it for so long that I just wanted a year off from Kill Bill and then I'll do the big supplementary DVD package."
The United States does not have a DVD boxed set of Kill Bill, though box sets of the two separate volumes are available in other countries, such as France, Japan and the United Kingdom. Upon the DVD release of Volume 2 in the US, however, Best Buy did offer an exclusive box set slipcase to house the two individual releases together.
- Snyder, Gabriel (2003-07-15). "Double 'Kill' bill". Variety.
- Marie Joseph Eugène Sue (1846). The orphan; or, Memoirs of Matilda, tr. [from Mathilde] by the hon. D.G. Osborne. p. 303.
- This is credited in the opening sequence as "Old Klingon Proverb". The concept embodied in the proverb has been in the English language since at least 1846, when the phrase "revenge is very good eaten cold" (italicized in the original) appeared in an English translation of a French novel.
- , Rose, Steve. "Found: where Tarantino gets his ideas", The Guardian, 2004–04–06. Retrieved on 2006-09-25
- Daniel Ekeroth: SWEDISH SENSATIONSFILMS: A Clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers, and Kicker Cinema (Bazillion Points, 2011) ISBN 978-0-9796163-6-5.
- , Tomohiro Machiyama. "QUENTIN TARANTINO reveals almost everything that inspired KILL BILL", JapAttack.com, 2003–08–28. Retrieved on 2007-09-11
- Other reviews by Rafael Ruiz (2003-10-23). "Kill Bill, Vol. 1 (2003)". Soundtrack. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- Downey, Ryan J. (October 13, 2003). "'Kill Bill' Slays Box-Office Competition". MTV. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- "Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Ogunnaike, Lola (October 13, 2003). "Gory 'Kill Bill' Tops Weekend Box Office". The New York Times.
- Cooper, Andrew (October 12, 2003). "Tarantino makes a box office killing". USA Today.
- Groves, Don (November 2, 2003). "'Kill Bill,' 'Cruelty' seesaw across globe". Variety.
- "Kill Bill: Volume 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- "Kill Bill: Vol. 1". Metacritic. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
- Scott, A. O. (October 10, 2003). "Film Review; Blood Bath & Beyond". The New York Times. (Metacritic Score: 70)
- Dargis, Manohla (October 10, 2003). "Kill Bill Vol. 1". Los Angeles Times. (Metacritic Score: 70)
- Lavin, Maud (2010). "Push Comes to Shove: New Images of Aggressive Women", p. 123. MIT Press, Cambridge. ISBN 978-0-262-12309-9.
- "The 100 Greatest Movie Characters| 66. The Bride | Empire". www.empireonline.com. 2006-12-05. Retrieved 2012-05-29.
- , Robot Chicken: Episode Guide
- "Tekstarkiv". Dagbladet.no. Retrieved 2009-07-14.
- "Kill Bill Parody". YouTube.
- "Tarantino Brings Kill Bills Together". ContactMusic.com. December 21, 2005. Retrieved 2007-06-11.
- "Best DVD Packaging of 2004". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2007-06-11.
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- Vol. 1 at the Internet Movie Database
- Vol. 1 at AllMovie
- Vol. 1 at Box Office Mojo
- Vol. 1 at Rotten Tomatoes