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Kill the Critics

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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.

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About Fabian

  • Joe

    I just saw it and I concur with Fabian and Shannon’s reviews. It’s like a cinematic version of the I Spy kids books or picking samples out of Big Audio Dynamite’s the Globe. Now I just need to get a Jeet Kun Do track suit and scarf down a bowl of Kaboom cereal and wait until February.

  • There’s no “underlying message of female independence” to Kill Bill — all that is is just a hook on which to hang the story from. I loved the movie, but it has the same message as all other Tarantino movies: none. His movies are about his own love of style.

  • How can you say that there is no underlying theme of female independence? Why then did Tarentino take the time to us the childhood story to O-Ren Ishii? The mesmerizing anime interlude shows a scared and scarred little girl taking her revenge on the man that killed her parents. This same girl grows up to be the woman that would later rule Tokyo’s crime syndicate. Is that not a strong independent woman character? I think it is. Once you take away the pop extravagance, this is a film about strong, independent female characters dealing the tyranny and evil that lurk in the hearts of men.

  • Not to mention strong, independent female characters dealing the tyranny and evil that lurk in the hearts of strong, independent demale characters — like O-Ren, who gets scalped by Black Mama. But as I said, the main thing you get from this film is not a sense of independence. The film is about Tarantino, more than anything, and his own love of style. It’s a complete triumph of style over substance. I loved it.

  • Eric Olsen

    I haven’t seen Kill Bill, but I would say based upon what I’ve gathered – and more importantly from the films I have seen – is that Tarantino values and rewards loyalty. While most of his action takes place outside the law, there is a code of ethics and those who follow it are granted higher status than those who don’t.