Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill appropriately opens with words uttered by Ricardo Montalban’s Khan in Star Trek II, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Khan preceded the quote by explaining that it was an old Klingon proverb and Tarantino credited the quote as such. But there were those in the audience that knew exactly who said the words and when. This film was made for those people.
Who are these people? People who have loyally watched the Star Trek franchise go through its ups and, most recently, its downs. People who watched in awe as Bruce Lee fought his way up the pagoda in Game of Death. People who loved Japanese anime before Robotech brought it to the Western masses. People that would go out of their way to watch seventies Hong Kong films like the Drunken Master, Master of the Flying Guillotine, and Sony Chiba’s samurai classics like Samurai Reincarnation.
Kill Bill pays homage to all these influences and more with style. It doesn’t assume that everyone in the audience can identify the plethora of inside jokes and references to other films and genres. Instead it presents the concepts with a certain amount of style and grace that is reserved only for truly great directors.
It is a movie that exploits everything in extremes–like a comic book come to life–like, dare I say, pulp fiction. And yes, even the extreme violence is done using extreme style. Blood doesn’t simply ooze out of severed limbs and body cavities, instead it sprays forcefully as if dancing through a concert of park fountains. It is a visual assault that grabs you and doesn’t let go.
It is nothing new, movies about revenge have been done before. However, the strong female warrior themes that are exploited in this film are concepts that are new to American cinema. Concepts that are long overdue and should be celebrated, even if the subject of revenge is “a little violent.”
So, I urge you not to kill Kill Bill, but to kill the critics. For taking the over-the-top pulp fiction violence literally, for not seeing the underlying message of female independence, and for not recognizing the stylistic genius of Tarantino for a few severed limbs. Kill the critics by watching this film en masse and proving that critical acclaim is never a vital ingredient for box office success.