[Spoiler Warning—the movie’s old so this author isn’t keeping secrets]
It is too late in the game to attempt to sum up the plots of the Quentin Tarantino movies, Kill Bill vol. I and Kill Bill vol. II, out for a few years now, and handily available in a DVD box set, courtesy of Miramax. But for busy, peace-minded writers such as myself, who never got around to watching the movie when it was all the rage, who thought the glorification of slaughter was both uninteresting and ridiculous, who assumed this film pairing to be mere junk food for the masses, well all I can say is… boy, was I wrong.
Like the best poetry or plays, the dialogue in both films is strong, tight and as fat-free as star Uma Thurman’s ass. Thurman plays the bloodied “Bride” in the first volume, who is later identified as Beatrix Kiddo in the second film. The infamous Bill is played by David Carradine, and he surfaces in Vol. II only, when it becomes clear that Bill is the one who shot the Bride in the head.
Bill: “When you didn't come back, I naturally assumed that Lisa Wong or somebody else had killed you. Oh, and for the record, letting someone think that someone they love is dead when they're not is quite cruel. I mourned you for three months. And in the third month, I tracked you down. Now, I wasn't trying to track you down. I was trying to track down the fucking assholes who I thought killed you. So, I find you. And what do I find? Not only are you not dead, you're getting married to some fucking jerk and you're pregnant. I... overreacted.”
The Bride: “You overreacted?”
The overall artistic vision and weird chronology is admirably, unbelievably smart, with a surprising structure, insane pacing and imagery, and continuously unexpected twists in presentation. You’ve no doubt already heard it’s an homage to the old grindhouse and Kung Fu flicks. I’m no expert in those genres, but yeah, that’s pretty obvious.
As the plot goes, the Bride had tried to leave her assassin ways behind her, and had been hiding out in El Paso with her record-store owner boyfriend Tommy, about to be married.
But Bill had other ideas.
Bill: “That’s you, trying to disguise yourself as a worker bee. That’s you trying to blend in with the hive. But you’re not a worker bee. You’re a renegade killer bee…”
The film itself is visually stunning, and sound matters a lot, especially in Vol. 2, when the screen is almost completely black for a scene when Uma pulls a Thriller and bursts from the grave.
What hasn’t been mentioned in many reviews is that Kill Bill (Let’s consider both movies as one, as they should be), while being first and foremost a revenge flick, is also a love story; an impossibly twisted love story between an evil man, a vengeful woman, and their little girl, B.B.
If only Bill had left his B-girls alone to live in Texas with sweetheart Tommy! Beatrix would have had her baby girl and none of the calamities. But bees have vindictive stings, and Beatrix is no exception.
Beatrix: “You and I have unfinished business.”
Vol. II’s emphasis on dialogue becomes apparent as it’s clear that the bloodied Bride and Bill must talk, or at the least, engage in a “coup de grace”, in Bill’s killer-speak. Tucking in the Zombies’ “She’s not There” into the soundtrack of the scene when the little girl’s existence is found out is pure genius.
Bill: “I’m a killer. A murdering bastard, you know that. And there are consequences to breaking the heart of a murdering bastard.”
It was good to see Bill die with a smidgeon of dignity and grace on his way to Hell. Of course, he deserved much worse than he got. But Beatrix got her baby in the end and Tarantino got the best thing since Pulp Fiction. If you don’t own it, change that. It’s worth revisiting and, I’m told, like any fine play or poem, layers of meaning will continue to reveal themselves with each experience.
The Bride: “I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as a 'roaring rampage of revenge.' I roared. And I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction.”