Running Time: 111 minutes
MPAA Rating: R
Format: Anamorphic Widescreen, 2.35:1
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, DTS 5.1 Surround Sound
Languages: English, French
Subtitles: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish
Region: 1
MSRP: $29.99

Own It!
Kill Bill, Volume 1 (2003)

Tarantino fans, rejoice! Love him or hate him, Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown) reveals a talent for fast paced action sequences with his latest to hit theatres and DVD, Kill Bill Volume 1. Basically a film that QT describes as his "love letter to grindhouse cinema", specifically the 1960s and 70s kung-fu genre (or my term of affection for them, "Chop-socky"). The director provides not necessarily an original story, but more of a clever homage - bordering on parody - on everything from classic Hong Kong action films to Brian DePalma to spaghetti westerns to Italian giallo films.

The plot centers (somewhat) around a mysterious assassin known only as The Bride (Uma Thurman), whose past connection with an outfit known as the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, led by the oft-spoken of, but never seen (yet) Bill (David Carradine), comes back to haunt her when she tries to leave the business to get married. In a big way.

After the Squad tries to kill her (succeeding only in slaughtering the entire wedding party), and after spending four horrific years in a coma (I say horrific after encountering the character of Buck from this sequence), the Bride awakes to begin a bloody revenge spree that spans the globe. Along the way she narrates a beautifully done anime sequence (which runs slightly long, somewhat breaking the pace of the film, but not enough for viewers to really care), meets with a sword maker from Okinawa (Sonny Chiba!), and is involved with a kill-crazy bloodbath in an Oriental nightclub. It all ends with a twist, setting up it's resolution in the upcoming Volume 2, to be released theatrically in mid- April 2004.

Crisp, clean picture presented in the usual Widescreen 2.35:1 ratio. The animated menus make heavy use of several of the key moments in the anime sequence from the film. Fairly easy to navigate - of course, this may be because they are pretty uncluttered (not a lot of "Special Features" or any other supplementary material to speak of).

"The Making of Kill Bill"- Nice, tight mini-documentary which serves as a decent promotional piece for the film. Translation: Everybody in the cast and crew talks about how much of a genius is Tarantino (that is, when they're not hyping each other).

"5,6,7,8's" Perform 'I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield' and 'I'm Blue'"- This appears to be the uncut footage of which a small amount was used in the "Showdown At The House of Blue Leaves" sequence. The band is an acquired taste, I must admit, but are amusing nonetheless for the non-fan - if only for the novelty or unintentional humor value of 3 very Japanese young ladies performing surf guitar tunes.

"Tarantino Trailers"- Compilation of trailers, one for each of Tarantino's past works, 2 for Kill Bill itself, and a teaser for the upcoming follow-up, Kill Bill Vol. 2. The stand-out here is one entitled Kill Bill Vol.1 Bootleg Trailer, which resembles (through its editing and retro title cards) a trailer for one of the many films that inspired this one. It also seems to include several pieces of footage of things to come in Volume 2.

With QT hinting at a "Special Edition" Box Set which may be forth-coming (after the DVD release of a "standard" disc of Vol. 2) with possible extras which will differ from any other previous releases of either film, several die-hard fans will probably either pass this disc up for hopes of greener pastures in the future, or buy into the whole scam (Tarantino and Miramax know his fans are junkies for his stuff). All in all, though, a great presentation of of an incredible film.

Anthony Conn, aka The Hong Kong Cavalier, 4/13/2004