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Tue, May 21

Despite enormous bloodshed, 'Kill Bill' offers innovations worth catching

"Kill Bill, Vol. 1" is the story of an almost-bride's revenge on her almost-groom when she awakens from a coma four years after his group of assassins put her into it by almost killing her and, at the same time, actually killing her unborn daughter.

So, the almost-bride, "Black Mamba" (Uma Thurman), wakes up and goes after the assassin club her ex-fiancé, Bill (David Carradine) put together.

In each fight scene, characters shed so much blood that audience members wonder why they're still dry there in the movie theater. However, the "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"-inspired martial arts are very cool, as are the swords the primary characters wield.

The photography and the beautiful scenery provide eye candy for the viewer who can stand to put up with the over-done blood spraying (and it's really spraying – a wise movie-watcher explained it may be arterial spurting, but this was no artery, it was more like an internal sprinkler).

Despite the gruesome subject matter, some of the fight scenes look really neat (just imagine they're dancing), like when the fighters are sillhouetted against a blue screen, or when Black Mamba fights O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), one of Bill's teammates, in the snowy backyard garden of a Japanese house.

Some parts of the movie are in black and white, and another part is in cartoon. It's really a neat concept, to switch things up like that. Except sure and gross enough, even the cartoon part is bloody and over the top.

Some of the film takes place in Pasadena, Calif., and much of it takes place in Japan. The actors who speak Japanese for the film make it sound like a beautiful language, and it's entertaining to hear a language that movie makers use sparingly. Also, it's neat to see just a glimpse of Japanese culture in the film.

The casting is great. Thurman as an innocent seeking revenge fits, as well as does Liu playing orphan-turned-assassin O-Ren Ishii. Liu's pretty and cunning face make her a perfect villain. Also, Chiaki Kuriyama does an excellent job as 17-year-old Go Go Yubari, Ishii's body guard. She has an innocent face, but she makes it look evil just the same.

Quentin Tarantino directs "Kill Bill," and like another of his notable films, "Pulp Fiction," "Bill" deals with some of the worst sides of human nature. It's not pleasant, by any means, but what's satisfying is Black Mamba's quick and non-regretful actions to exact revenge on people who wronged her.

It general, "Kill Bill, Vol. 1" is way too gory, but the strong story line and beautiful photography and scenery help make up for the lack of taste Tarantino displays with the nasty spurting and spraying and gushing and spewing and dripping of blood.

Without the blood, it'd be a really swell movie. Even with the blood, it's a fresh approach. And a good cliffhanger.

Some questions, though: How did Black Mamba know, upon waking from her coma, that four years had passed? Why doesn't she have a family? Where did she get money to buy stuff when she woke up? And why must people talk during movies?

Contact Hilary Eller at


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