Kill Bill Vol. 1

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(2003) ★★★

Sky Movies Crime and Thriller: Tuesday 30 June, 11.20pm

Uma Thurman as the blood-spattered Bride, working her way through a kill-list after waking from a four-year coma. Betrayed and left for dead by David Carradine’s Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, Uma’s out for payback. With extremely gratuitous prejudice. Putting all his pop-culture eggs in one basket, Quentin Tarantino cooks up a breathless zap-tastic ‘Supercool Manchu!’ tribute to Asian action movie clichés. It makes an almighty mess of the kitchen. And the yolk’s on the audience.

‘The 4th film by Quentin Tarantino’ announces the opening credit (it’s actually the fifth, but he’s choosing to ignore the dog’s dinner that was Four Rooms – self-promoters like Mr Tarantino are good at rewriting history, especially their own) after a black-and-white close-up of a badly beaten Uma Thurman. She takes more punishment than Walking Tall’s Buford Pusser and Jim Caviezel’s Jesus Christ combined. No matter. She’ll bounce back and the magpie music score – a bit of Ironside’s blaring, some Luis Bacalov chorale in the style of Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti dishes, even James Last and an awful Sonny Bono song – will jolly her along in her gleeful vengeance quest.

Still, it’s an entertaining hit-and-miss hodgepodge, flitting hither and thither in search of the Big Payoff. Which comes in an extraordinary showdown at the House of Blue Leaves.

The scrutably treacherous Lucy Liu prowls the ramparts. A hopeless Japanese girly retro-band wails on stage. There are frenzied flunkeys, masked and dangerous, on the staircase and stuntmen stooges on the dance floor. It’s a superbly orchestrated bloodbath and nothing in Vol 2  touches it. Fuelled by flashbacks and reams of borrowed wit, Vol 2 (which follows at 1.15am) sees Tarantino in snooze mode, carried away by his facility for slangy dialogue and emptily slick visuals cribbed from Asian movies and the complete works of Sergio Leone. Tarantino may imagine he’s paying tribute to the maestro Leone, yet he’s far closer in style and tone to the cartoon excesses of Dario Argento. (Incidentally, if you manage to make it through Vol 2’s 150 minutes, the punchline is pathetic.)

Compared to genuine cinematic heavyweights, Tarantino’s a goofy pretender – Austin Powers with good actors and bad jokes. It’s deep stuff – like pan-fried pizza.

Certificate: 18

Duration: 106min

Other Showings Time & Date
Syfy Thursday, 2 July at 10:00PM
Syfy Saturday, 4 July at 10:00PM
Syfy Tuesday, 7 July at 10:00PM