‘Kill Bill’: The “I Don’t Have to Pander to Quentin Tarantino’s Ego” Edition

10Dec06

First, I would like to thank TNT for allowing me both to review films that I have not seen in some time and for giving me an opportunity to attempt films that I have been hesitant to watch, including Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill films. I had not seen any of Tarantino’s films before watching Kill Bill, nor was I fan of kung fu movies or Japanese films in general. Thus, I did not rush to see Kill Bill because I did not consider myself part of its demographic. But thanks to TNT I watched Vol. 1 and became intrigued.

Ultimately, I think that Tarantino shot himself in the foot with these films. Separately, they are both enjoyable in two very different ways, but both seem bloated. Tarantino is so in love with himself and his creation that he often fails to give Sally Menke enough lattitude in the editing room. But I very strongly believe that within these four and a half hours of footage there IS a good two-and-a-half-hour film. Therefore, I offer my critic’s cut of the film.

“Do You Find Me Sadistic” – I give credit where credit is merited: the opening of the film is fantastic. This short, simply shot scene introduces a strangely tender rapport between The Bride and the man who shoots her, whom she later intends to kill. The scene also introduces the very soap opera-ish premise of the film and The Bride’s character in a way that does not rely on a lot of tedious exposition.

Main Titles: Bang Bang – Tarantino’s choice of Nancy Sinatra’s torch song remake of Sonny and Cher’s “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” can be called nothing less than brilliant. The song’s lyrics serve to build the relationship between The Bride and Bill and musically the song encourages the audience to mourn for The Bride and sympathize with her position.

Chapter One 2 – I think that Vivica Fox does a lot with an underdeveloped character and I do enjoy the interaction between her and The Bride (“I shoulda been motherfuckin’ Black Mamba”). But the script does not serve Vernita well – the audience doesn’t care if she lives or dies – and her scenes do not give any unique information, with the exception of introducing the Deadly Viper Squad and The Bride’s code name as Black Mamba. I do recognize that Tarantino is trying to infuse some momentum into the film at this point, but I will discuss an alternative further down.

“We’ll Have Us a Knife Fight” – See above.

Chapter Two The Blood-Spattered Bride – Yes. That’s right. I’m cutting out Chapters One and Two. Why? I just don’t think that they are necessary. In the case of Chapter Two, the audience doesn’t care about the characters and the scene does not offer any information that is not explained in a more interesting way later in the film.

“Word of Advice, Shithead, Don’t You Ever Wake Up” – I love Elle; more specifically, I love how much I love to hate her. Daryl Hannah gives the finest performance that I have ever seen from her, and she creates Elle as a terrific foil to The Bride. This hospital scene develops Elle as an interesting character and establishes the dynamic between herself and The Bride. The scene also answers a question that the audience most likely will ask: why didn’t the Deadly Viper Squad finish off The Bride when she was at her most docile? And it continues to build the relationship between Bill and The Bride. The Bride’s voiceover that introduces the Deadly Viper Squad during one of Vernita’s scenes easily could be moved to the hospital scene.

“My Name Is Buck, And I’m Here to Fuck” – Initially, I did not see the value of the inclusion of Buck and his whoring out The Bride to other perverts, but my friend commented that her being raped while comatose puts The Bride at a nadir at the start of her quest for revenge. Because Tarantino paints them so evilly, the audience also can be forgiving of The Bride killing Buck and his necrophiliac friend to obtain something that she needed, namely freedom from the hospital and a mode of transportation. Speaking of that mode of transportation, there is no way that the police would not have stopped and questioned The Bride in two seconds for driving around that spectacle of a truck, which belonged to a murdered man.

“Wiggle Your Big Toe” – Even though the scene slows the pace of the film a bit, I like the “Wiggle Your Big Toe” scene because it demonstrates The Bride’s determination.

Chapter Three The Origin of O-Ren – While I applaud Tarantino’s attempt at using multiple visual styles within the film, the anime segment is superfluous and it unnecessarily distracts the viewer from The Bride. None of the other Deadly Vipers receive as much backstory as O-Ren, and really this backstory does not service O-Ren’s character development much. Lucy Liu creates O-Ren as an interesting and sympathetic character without the aid of the anime piece.

Chapter Five Showdown at House of Blue Leaves – This scene that introduces O-Ren as the leader of the Tokyo Underworld easily replaces “The Origin of O-Ren” and it features a brilliant bit of acting by Lucy Liu. My one edit would be to remove Gogo from the film entirely. She isn’t interesting and her fight with The Bride is slow and boring.

Chapter Four The MAN from OKINAWA – These Okinawa scenes slow the pace a bit, but I recognize that they comprise an important part of the mythic hero quest, i.e. the hero(ine) obtains a magical weapon. And Sonny Chiba is having too much fun with his character for me to remove them completely.

“Funny, You Like Samurai Swords, I Like Baseball” – First of all, is Tarantino serious with that line? I mean, glah! That scene in the attic(?) with the swords isn’t very interesting. Add the exchange about You know I don’t make weapons anymore, Why should I help you? to the scene in the restaurant and move on to the sword ceremony.

“If On Your Journey You Should Encounter God, God Will Be Cut” – I like that line that Tarantino stole.

“The 5.6.7.8’s” – Obviously, one cannot remove this scene entirely because it sets up the most impressive fight sequence of the films. However, a lot of the stuff in this section is pretty useless. Tarantino really wants the audience to know what a goddamned genius he is, given all of the tracking shots in this sequence. He also has an excess of his trademark “cool” shots, but if the Council meeting scene were moved earlier in the film they would remind the audience of these characters.

“Tear the Bitch Apart!” – I’m curious if perhaps this first piece of the fight could be rewritten slightly and moved earlier in the film to replace the fight with Vernita. I think that the “Trix are for kids” exchange would make a nice transition out of this scene and into the flashback in the hospital.

You Must Be Gogo – Bye, Gogo. We don’t care.

The Crazy 88s – Yes, this fight scene is impressive and well-choreographed, but it goes on FOREVER. As my friend said, “I would rather it be The Crazy 22s.”

“That Really Was a Hattori Hanzo Sword” – I like the fight scene between The Bride and O-Ren, mostly because of The Bride accepting O-Ren’s apology for ridiculing her. Oh, and did I mention that Lucy Liu rocks?

“They’ll All Soon Be As Dead as O-Ren” – I would axe Sofie’s bit, but I like Julie Dreyfus and she’s a vehicle to reintroduce Bill, whom we have not seen in a while.

“Revenge is Never a Straight Line” – Most of this scene can be removed because the previews for the next film are unnecessary — we’re soldiering on. I also think that Bill’s line about Does The Bride know that her child is still alive? should be removed so that the audience will be as surprised as The Bride when she meets her daughter toward the end of the film. So, I guess all that we’re keeping from this scene is her writing her death list on the plane. Eh, you don’t really need that either. Let’s get rid of it.

“I Am Gonna Kill Bill” – Don’t need the recap of Vol. 1, but thanks, Uma.

Chapter Six Massacre at Two Pines – This scene begins to flesh out the incident that instigated everything that has preceded it in the film. I considered moving this bit and the following scene earlier in the film, but I think that it provides a nice break from the swordplay and blood.

“Are You Gonna Be Nice?” – This scene is actually quite moving and really firms up the affection and longing that existed between Bill and The Bride before he tried to assassinate her. The scene could use some trimming because it does feel overly long, but it is well-acted and provides character development.

“That Woman Deserves Her Revenge, And We Deserve to Die” – I debated removing this scene entirely, but I really like the dynamic between Bill and Budd. In fact, I just like Budd period. Besides Bill, he is the most humanized of the Deadly Vipers and I like how pragmatic he is.

Chapter Seven The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz – Whee! More Budd.

A Satisfied Mind – I think that the misdirection of Budd looking out the window when he hears a dog bark could be taken out, but this scene is all about furthering the plot.

“This Is for Breaking My Brother’s Heart” – Again, the scene could use some editing, but it pushes along the story.

“Once Upon a Time in China” – Include a mention of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique when Bill leaves The Bride at Pai Mei’s and move on. Their farewell at Pai Mei’s tells the viewer the exact things about Bill and The Bride’s relationship as the bonfire scene.

The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei – I would cut out Pai Mei entirely, but I recognize that in creating his kung fu pastiche, Tarantino needs the training sequence. And Gordon Liu has so much fun flipping his beard.

“OK Pai Mei, Here I Come” – Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, let’s get this plot a-goin’.

Chapter Nine ELLE and I – Take out the unneeded shots of The Bride walking through the desert, but otherwise leave this scene untouched. “You know, I’ve always liked that word ‘gargantuan.’ I so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence.” Ha!

“Bitch, You Don’t Have a Future” – Elle! ‘Nuff said. Oh, but does The Bride really have to step on Elle’s eye? That seemed a bit excessive.

Last Chapter Face to Face – I can’t say that I really like this scene between The Bride and Esteban, partially because it introduces a new character late in the film whom the audience really doesn’t care about, but mostly because I cannot understand Esteban very well. Michael Parks does a good accent, but he mumbles. I would cut the scene, but Esteban leads The Bride to Bill. And Uma is such a badass.

“Bang, Bang” – Good scene, but would have been better if the audience had not been told that BB was still alive. I like that Tarantino chose not to portray Bill one-dimensionally and shows him to be a loving father.

Emilio’s Story – The Bride just looks kinda stupid during this scene. (Sorry, Uma. I still think that you’re fabulous.) I think that “Bang Bang” could easily transition into the scene in the bedroom.

“Were you being a bad daddy?” – I think this bedroom scene accomplishes Tarantino’s objective of the Emilio scene more effectively and efficiently. In my opinion, “Emilio’s Story” establishes the tenuous truce that Bill and The Bride declare around their daughter. Bill does most of the talking during these scenes, demonstrating that he is willing to be generous to The Bride by allowing her time with BB, despite the fact that she has come to kill him. Tarantino blocks this scene in the bedroom so that Bill has his back to The Bride for most of the scene — how would an assassin better display trust and vulnerability than turning his back to an enemy? The Bride actually engages in this scene, which makes it much more interesting than her stare-with-her-mouth-open stance of the previous scene.

Superman Speech – Good scene. One of the few scenes in the film with really good dialogue.

Pregnancy Test – Good scene. (“Congratulations.” Ha!)

“You and I Have Unfinished Business” – Good scene.

Next Morning – Good scene.

And FIN. Can I say that I really don’t understand that contrivance of censoring The Bride’s name in the first film. I mean, I understand WHY Tarantino didn’t want her to have a name — her identity is completely tied up on in her quest for revenge — but Tarantino could’ve just not written her name into any of the scenes. Nor do I understand what’s up with the credits. It seems like Tarantino promised every actor that he would credit her name at least three times.

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One Response to “‘Kill Bill’: The “I Don’t Have to Pander to Quentin Tarantino’s Ego” Edition”

  1. Wonderful info within that article, anime occupies too much of my time.


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