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Film Reviews

Netflix Flashback: The Quentin Tarantino film ‘Kill Bill: Vol 1’ will be a forever pulpy classic

Quentin Tarantino is a living legend. An unapologetic and unabashed provocateur, the filmmaker loves experimenting with several cinematic styles wherein he pays homage over and over again to films as a self-proclaimed fanboy. After working in a film rental store and watching several films, the legendary auteur went on to make films like Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, Djang Unchained, Kill Bill Vol. 1, Kill Bill Vol. 2, Inglourious Basterds and more where he dabbled in several themes and elements, not to forget various ways of legitimising his foot fetish in front of the whole world. 

Tarantino became a household name with Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown. By the time he released his fourth film, Kill Bill Vol. 1 in 2003, he was already known as the connoisseur of crude wordplay, nuanced techniques and pure love for gore and bloodbath. In his 2003 film, Tarantino borrows elements from his favourite genres, especially from East Asian action films, and creates a flurry of mixed media images that makes the experience unique and unforgettable. 

He sets the premise from the get-go. It is a story of revenge. However, he weaves in his quintessential humour to create a fascinating and bloody blend. He takes the audience on a hyper-realistic ride of violence and vengeance, even using a large chunk of animated segments to tell the origin story of one of the villains, played by Lucy Liu. The audience empathises with her and her character, who loses her parents to a paedophile and revels in her victory as she murders him in cold blood. But the heightened use of graphics prevents the scene from being too real and confines it within the pages of a moving comic book that is Tarantino’s creation. 

Uma Thurman is at the centre of the film as The Bride. A classic origin story of a femme fatale who embarks on a quest to avenge the wrongdoings of her former lover and boss, the mysterious Bill, the film sees her wake up after four years of coma. Bill and his group of assassins have attempted to murder Bride during her wedding, obliterating her entire wedding party and killing her baby, something she obviously cannot let go. 

Driven by the insatiable thirst to seek revenge, The Bride overcomes motor disabilities, wiggles her toes and drives the Pussy Wagon before crossing out names on her list. Clad in a yellow jumpsuit which is a clear homage to Bruce Lee who wore a similar suit in his final film, the Bride wields a knife and later a sharp sword as she makes her way through the hitlist, narrowing down on Bill. 

Thurman and Tarantino both worked together to create the character. One of the deadliest yet most entertaining and complex characters in cinematic history, The Bride was as “scary” as Tarantino wanted her to be. The filmmaker does not leave any room for sympathy in the minds of the audience as The Bride is barely helpless. She is agile, strong and nuanced and an absolute killing machine. Thurman expertly switches between several emotions and becomes the driving force in this gory odyssey, where Tarantino’s love for beheadings, stabbings and killing orgies becomes evident in blood spurts. 

The use of music and comical effects is in direct contrast with the intimate and realistic glance the close-ups of eyes, hands and various other body parts provide. Also starring Lucy Liu, Vicivia A. Fox, David Carradine, Daryl Hanah and Julia Dreyfus, among others, the story sets the perfect premise for a sequel where Thurman will most likely hunt down Bill in a series of violent killings. When it was released in 2003, Kill Bill Vol. 1 was met with mixed criticism. While some could not get enough of the filmmaker’s stylistic choices, others were baffled by the lack of substance in the film. 

18 years later, however, the film is an absolute classic in all its pulpy strangeness and chaos that even the most ardent Tarantino haters cannot help but secretly enjoy.