Kill Bill Directed by Quentin Tarantino Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, David Carradine When I was growing up, one of the local TV stations used to have an afternoon movie that would start just about the time we were getting home from school. They would often have theme weeks: monster week, western week, sci-fi week, and the like. One of my favorites though was Kung Fu week. These films were brought from Japan, badly dubbed, and had roughly the same story line. The hero’s master is killed by a rival gang/school/local villain; hero vows revenge and takes on some ridiculous training (like trying to jump out of an 8 feet deep fit with 50 pound weights on each ankle) and nearly gives up only to discover that his training has endowed him with amazing skill (all that jumping means he can now leap 30 feet straight up); hero takes revenge. Kill Bill would have fit in nicely right after “Master of the Flying Guillotine.” Except, of course, for all the language and blood. That brings me to an important note right up front. This film is rated R and they mean it. Don’t take your kids. The language is consistently foul (though not out of character typically) and the blood flows like a river. So, if you’re squeamish, you should probably take a pass. “Kill Bill” opens with the “death” of Uma Thurman’s character. We know she’s pregnant and that it is her wedding day, but little else. Of course, she isn’t really dead or there wouldn’t be much of a film. It’s an interesting scene that holds on her bloodied and beaten face while we hear Bill trying to sound concerned – just before…well, you’ll see. Skip ahead after 4 years of coma, and Uma is back on her feet and ready to take revenge on those responsible for her state – Bill’s Viper Assassination Squad (complete with codenames like Cottonmouth and Copperhead) of which Uma was a former member. By the way, if you’re wondering why I’m not using Uma’s character name, it because we don’t know it. Its “bleeped” every time its spoken. Don’t ask me why, but there it is. There are 5 targets on Uma’s list, with the last being, of course, Bill. Uma encounters 2 of her adversaries in this installment. In case you hadn’t heard, the final cut of this film was close to 4 hours, so it is being released in 2 installments. This is just Volume 1. The story itself is presented in book form – complete with chapter titles. It does jump around a bit – though not as much as “Pulp Fiction” where such a format was used to great effect. However, the very simple plot makes it easy to follow where you’re at, so it isn’t terribly distracting. The film is also an odd mix of different styles. Some color, some black and white. Some live action, some anime. Yes, anime – a history of one of the characters looks like it was lifted from a lost episode of Aeon Flux. Some high tech effects, and some decidedly low tech. Pay attention to the city as Uma flies into Japan, it is so obviously a model, you half expect Godzilla to appear in mid-rampage. Still, it generally works and it adds an element of interest to a plot that is decidedly thin. The acting work is so-so, but I really don’t fault the actors/actresses for that. They don’t have a lot to work with. As the film progresses, we learn more about the characters, but often, we don’t spend enough time with anyone to really understand them. The one’s we do get history on typically don’t live very long. This film is also fairly sparse on the dialogue, and instead we get a fair amount of voice over by Uma. Which is a shame, because the few scenes of character we do get are pretty entertaining. So, you’re thinking, enough with the critic crap already, how’s the fighting? Plentiful. And very, VERY bloody. There are more severed limbs in this film than in all of the Freddy and Jason films ever made. Eyes plucked out, disembowelments, arms cut off, legs cut off, people sliced in two. There is so much blood that it really becomes rather silly – and that’s the fun. Someone isn’t just decapitated in this film. When their head comes off, there is a literal fountain of blood spewing 10 feet into the air that lasts for a decidedly unnatural length of time. It’s cheesy and it works in the context of this film. Oh, and if you are a fan of Japanese swords, you’ll have lots to enjoy. Outside the blood, the fighting is not too terribly realistic. The wire-fu isn’t as drastic as say, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” but there are the requisite running up of walls, amazing feats of balance, and incredible mid-air spins. But, again, it’s all in fun. And if you can disengage your rationale for a bit and enjoy the absurdity of it all, you will have a good time. Unfortunately, the big showdowns are a let-down. One is interrupted mid-stream and comes to an abrupt and odd conclusion, and the other, well, its just terribly short and subdued in comparison to Uma’s battle with the Crazy 88. But the Crazy 88 and Go-Go – oh man, oh man, what a trip. If you’re looking for a strong story, deep characters, or meaningful themes, stay at home. If you like a little cheese with your Kung Fu, then step on up cause this is an all-you-can-eat buffet. I give Kill Bill 3 stars out of 5.