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Thursday, May 22, 2008

KILL BILL: Volume One (2003)

Quentin Tarantino’s martial arts revenge pic is good sadistic fun, but certainly no masterpiece. Featuring his usual crisscross time continuity, heightened colors (plus some noirish B&W), & measured pacing with spurts of violence (spurts is the word!), Taratino calls it "my yakuza film, my samurai film, my spaghetti western." Why not "my Pink Panther film?" Left for dead along with her wedding party, Uma Thurman (still more model than actress) wakes from a 4-yr coma and lives only to get even. First up is yakuza ganglady turned U.S. suburbanite (Vivica Fox) and it plays out like Inspector Clouseau surprising Cato. Just as ridiculous is the final showdown with Uma taking on scores of inept sword welding yakuzas before a one-on-one battle w/ Lucy Liu ’s fearless leader. There’s a cool weight-driven water pump involved in the fight that acts like a metronome to all the action, but the staging never convinces us we are actually seeing anything happen. Ballet with no lifts. Fortunately, these disappointments bookend far more successful material where Tarantino’s strengths in character, narrative and quirky comedy make their mark. (Though even this is upstaged by a superb anime segment detailing Liu’s background.) Word had it that Vol. Two played more naturally into QT’s better instincts. See the grim news below.

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