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plot in a nutshell
The film is about a very simple idea - revenge. A woman is a member of
the Deadly Viper Assassins. Pregnant and in love, she decides it's
time to leave - but that's not the way things work. The other four
assasins, along with the leader, Bill, make an appearance at the wedding,
and kill everyone in attendance. Leaving Black Mamba for dead (Uma
Thurman), they disappear again. But she's not quite dead, and recovers
from a coma. Now without everything that mattered to her, she sets off
to hunt them down and kill them.
This is Tarantino's fourth film
as director, after Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs and Jackie Brown. The
film was considered too long at the final edited time, and rather than edit
it further, Tarantino decided to cut the film in two. This is 'volume
1', with volume 2 to be released early in 2004.
Spoiler Free Thoughts
This is classic
Tarantino, but that's not necessarily a good thing. Is this a bad
film? I don't think so, although there will be plenty of sensible
folks who think it is. But if this flick gets any sort of Oscar
consideration, it will be purely on the basis of Tarantino's name.
plot is as thin as possible, just enough story to tie together a series of
brutal, over the top deaths. The film is an homage to every goofy,
cheap chop socky flick ever made, with particular nods to Bruce Lee (the
orange jumper, the Kato masks, even the use of the Green Hornet theme
music). From the opening credits, with the grainy, cheap film, to the
inclusion of Sonny Chiba, the film pays it's respects to the entire genre.
speaking of Sonny, the scenes including him as a current bar owner, ex-sword
maker are some of the best in the film. It's the only time we get the
trademark Tarantino witty dialogue, something this movie could have used a
little more of.
a Kevin Smith film is dialog heavy, this flick is dialog extra lite.
The focus here is the action, and that is done very well. Sure,
there's some wire work, and on occasion - especially during the big battle
of the 88 Katos - it goes over the top. But most of the fights are
simply well choreographed, with great stunts and excellent camera work.
more gratuitous blood than you can possibly imagine. Whenever a head
or limb gets lopped off, blood doesn't just gush - it's like Old
Faithful. These people have some seriously strong hearts, pouring the
red flood out in a spray across walls, ceilings, floors and attackers.
No one dies a simple death. Instead, they end up twitching on the
ground in an ocean of their own juices. Well, except for the one guy
lucky enough to be spanked by Uma.
you're not into bad, old Kung Fu movies, there's plenty here to annoy
you. The awful clanging music played whenever Uma sees one of her old
attackers again is enough to put off most regular folks, but if that doesn't
do it the silly deaths will. I grew up on the films this movie is mimicking,
so I found it entertaining and fun. But I also could see where the
average Joe Six Pack is going to think Quentin is way over rated.
does a nice job with what she has to do. It's predominately a physical
role, and she does a great job with it. We don't get to see much of
Carradine as Bill, but it's brilliant casting. Lucy Liu puts in my
favorite performance, and does a terrific job explaining to a Japanese Mafia
boss why it's a bad idea to bring up her heritage. Darryl Hannah is
almost unrecognizable as one of the vipers, and Vivica Fox puts in a decent
turn as another of the deadly vipers. Michael Madsen, who seems unable
to find work outside of Tarantino films, is on screen all too briefly in
this first volume.
is one of those films where the director gets away with doing really silly,
goofy, ridiculous things because he does them on purpose. I'm not sure
that's a good thing, and you'll probably find one or more that do bug
you. For me, it was the traditional bad music I already
mentioned. It wasn't the rest of the soundtrack - there are some great
songs here, and many fit the moods and choreography so well you'll be amazed
- but that one song was so much like the old films, and not in a good way,
that it always jerked me out of the fun I was having. Another one for
me was Black Mamba's list. She wants to kill five people. Five
people she knows very well. But she has to make list of their
names. Uh huh. And then, just for dramatic effect, she has to
cross the names off after she kills them. Hey, anyone could forget
they'd killed someone after a half hour blood bath.
of over the top, martial arts exploitation films will enjoy this romp.
None of it is to be taken seriously, even when they try to give you some
true emotion. That's too bad, because there are a few times when Ms.
Thurman did her best to make you feel her real pain, but then that corny
music starts in, and the mood is lost in the wild ride.
Rating - Rent It
it's a fun movie if you're bent that way, but you're just as well off
renting both halves when they hit the video store. The cliffhanger
ain't all that much of a cliffhanger, and considering it took almost two
hours for Uma to off only two of her five list members, you can expect the
second film is pretty much more of the same.
kind of surprised that Tarantino did this film so early in his career.
Didn't we just get a homage to exploitation flicks from him in Jackie
Brown? It would be nice to see if the guy that made magic with Pulp
Fiction and Reservoir Dogs could actually do it again, instead of playing
king of the movie geeks.
Spoiler Laden Thoughts
Oh, there's that cliffhanger ending...
...that really wasn't much of a
cliffhanger. The fact that her daughter survived was pretty obvious
from the beginning, although where she's been these four years is likely to
be interesting. I'm a little confused about Bill though - did he not
hear her say the baby was his? We clearly heard it, but perhaps he
didn't, and never knew. That might answer a few things, but the basic
reality of this movie is that the story is a distant second place to the