Today! Because I’m not going to murder you in front of your child, okay?
Kill Bill Vol. 1 (2003)
Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x5)
Starring Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu (x2), Vivica A. Fox (x2), Daryl Hannah (x3), Julie Dreyfus (x2), Sonny Chiba, Michael Bowen (x3), Michael Parks, Jun Kunimura, Michael Madsen (x2), David Carradine, Gordon Liu, James Parks (x2), Jonathan Loughran (x2)
Functioning both as a total outlier and as no surprise whatsoever, Kill Bill Vol. 1 is the rare samurai/kung-fu movie to make the list, while also being the fifth Tarantino film to do so. I remember saying after first seeing this in theaters that I couldn’t imagine going a month without watching it again for the rest of my life. Yes, this was almost certainly just drunken hyperbole, but that’s how madly in love I was with Kill Bill. It’s such a thrilling, adrenaline-fueled, blood-splattered revenge epic that you can’t help being sucked in to the crazy, topsy-turvy world of the film. I would also venture it has the best Tarantino soundtrack, which is possibly the highest praise this movie can receive from me, who wore out cassette tapes of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs in the ’90s. From the perfect opening credits sequence set to Nancy Sinatra’s “Bang Bang” to the 5, 6, 7, 8s wacko “Woo Hoo,” I think the only collection to maybe top this is Kill Bill Vol. 2‘s, but it is a very close contest.
It must’ve long ago reached theaters now, barring some wild mishap, but I can say I might be looking forward to the soundtrack to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood more than the film, at this minute. There’s no trailers as of this writing, even though glancing at the calendar it should’ve hit theaters nearly a year ago, right? Is it awesome? It’s probably awesome.
Again, I loved Vol. 1 so out of proportion to the affection I felt for these sort of films (i.e. none whatsoever) that it’s the only solid explanation I have for why Vol. 2 is the lone Tarantino joint eligible to be on this list that isn’t. I’ve heard the argument that the sequel is actually a better film, and from a certain point of view I can understand that logic. In reality, the first movie is just pure carnage. Some bits of exposition are given out, sure, and some backstory is added for the characters who aren’t making it to part two, but otherwise this is a ton of fighting and bleeding and dying set to an awesome found compilation of tunes. The left turn the follow-up made was to stylistically change from hyper-violent slashing cartoon to character driven sword-western. The body count for Vol. 1 is nearly 100, while only three people die in Vol. 2.
And it’s not that I don’t like or appreciate Vol. 2, I think I was just so blindsided by the change of pace that I couldn’t help but feel sorta let down, which lingers to this day. While I basically understood why the film was split in half, I didn’t get why the second part felt so deflated. The original plan – to have this function as one long movie – probably would’ve been too much for audiences in 2003, or maybe ever. It would’ve run 4+ hours with no significant edits to what exists, and that’s a lot of blood sprays for one film. To my knowledge, the unseparated version – The Whole Bloody Affair, as it’s often referred – has never been available on video, or played in theaters outside a handful of festivals, but I have to assume this would most benefit part two, at least in my eyes.
All this being said, and coupled with my surprise at finding Vol. 1 my second favorite Tarantino film in putting this list together, I still have to complain, just a bit, about the fact that we get that random anime sequence in the middle of the movie. I guess this was done to lessen the horror of what goes on in those scenes, but I’ve never really enjoyed the segue. It’s distracting and jarring for the audience to just drop into low-grade animation all of a sudden, and have to follow this as part of the plot. This might just be me, but it’s my only real problem with the movie, and is a pretty minor one at that.
Oh, also, while I think it’s sorta cool that they might pull together the obvious Kill Bill Vol. 3 idea with Vernita Green’s daughter – do we really need that? I mean, I’ll see it if they make it, but…eh. Just throwing it out there.
Tarantino is the sixth Five-Timer director, joining Spielberg, Brooks, Allen, Kubrick, and the Coens, after #252 Reservoir Dogs, #72 Inglourious Basterds, #96 Django Unchained, and #131 Jackie Brown, while we have an unexpected pair leading the actor group, with Michael Bowen (#217 Magnolia and Jackie Brown) and Daryl Hannah (#389 Memoirs of an Invisible Man and #230 Blade Runner) heading to the Threes!