Friday, August 14, 2015

"Kill Bill" Volumes 1 & 2 (2003, 2004)

Twelve years after seeing part 1 in theaters—on a lark with a bunch of men aiming to see a ridiculous action flick—I finally got around to seeing “Kill Bill” Part 2. Tarantino considers this one film, but it seems they felt it had to be split due to length. Truth be told, the two films are so tonally different they work well as separate products. The first is a near satirical action cartoon. The second borders on the tedious without becoming unentertaining.

As a whole, it is an interesting work, as all of Tarantino’s films end up being. His craft is excellent, and one is absorbed in the WAY he tells his stories even if not always in the stories themselves. With “Kill Bill” he shifted from his violence obsessed gangster themed works, to his ongoing obsession with revenge tales. After all, if you want to justify displaying over-the-top violence on screen, you need to give the audience permission to relish in the violence guilt free.

Artists as precise and meticulous as Tarantino always create works that hold up to a lot of scrutiny, and “Kill Bill” has certainly generated a lot of discussion. Some claim it is a feminist story, but more convincing arguments have been made that it is just the opposite. There is also some talk of the way it explores Buddhist themes such as the five poisons (with each person on the Bride’s list representing one of the evils) or even redemption. But those seem to be a stretch.

One of the more compelling observations is the pattern where Uma Thurman’s character experiences deaths followed by resurrections, each time assuming a different aspect of her character. Black Mamba dies when she is initially shot and she becomes the Bride. Then the Bride is buried by Budd and emerges as Beatrice Kiddo. Kiddo “dies” when her daughter play-shoots her and she becomes Mommy. There are even those who claim that, chronologically, the Bride doesn’t kill anyone following Vernita Green (the first fight shown). These people claim that Bill’s death is a pantomime and a way of Bill allowing her to leave him while saving face.

In the end, it is nothing more than a super violent revenge story. In perfect postmodern fashion, it is all up to the viewer to decide what it all means or even what exactly happens. And that, in some way, lessens the fun of it all.

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