Welcome to the Pile of Shame. Throughout my years of ceaseless debauchery and frankly worrying video game addiction, I missed out on movies that many consider classics. If you’ve ever asked someone if they watched a certain movie and gasped when they said they never did, you know what type of guy I am. I figured that it’s pretty silly that someone like me who lacks the appropriate historical movie education is allowed to write on such an esteemed movie website as ours, and have since created a pile of classic movies that I will work through in order to achieve true enlightenment. This series will be my chronicle through it and you’re more than welcome to tag along. Also, expect some spoilers in there, if you haven’t watched these films already.
I’m not ashamed to say that I’m a Tarantino fanboy. His movies are some of my most loved pieces of cinema ever and his unique style has captured me ever since I first watched Inglorious Basterds. My exposure to Tarantino was piecemeal, starting with his more modern work and working my way through his catalogue, including the very first movie of this series, Pulp Fiction. There’s one Tarantino film, or rather, films, that have haunted me for an extremely long time and that’s both volumes of Kill Bill. All I knew of this movie were the references. The fight scene involving a woman dressed in yellow with a sword, that strange zoom in with the funky music, the little quotes that get thrown around, but outside of that, I had no idea. I’m doing Vol. 1 and 2 separately because I want to experience the full effect of this movie and discussing the first part first sounded like the best option.
Heading into it, I expected the traditional gratuitous violence that comes whenever you enter a Tarantino film and the fractured exposition that he’s known for. That was all still true within Vol. 1, but what I didn’t expect was how off the fucking wall this thing was going to get. It’s patently ridiculous and sways so far out of the realm of any kind of restraint that it made my primal lizard brain giddy with excitement. The premise is one as old as time itself. A revenge movie. You can’t get more common than that and if you stack all the movies with the central premise of revenge into a tower of DVDs, that thing might kill you if it topples over.
But Kill Bill takes that generic narrative trope and does what many movies are afraid of doing in fear of losing themselves: just saying “fuck it”. The story follows The Bride, a mysterious stranger that is involved in a massacre that leaves everything she loves dead. What I particularly liked about this character in Vol. 1 is that you have no clue who she is. She’s simply a woman who was put through so many horrible ordeals that you can’t properly fathom them. Her violent conviction is nearly overpowering. She’s going to murder every single one of the people responsible for her suffering and ultimately, the ringleader of everything, Bill.
And she doesn’t hold back, not even for a little bit. Slamming people’s heads in doors after waking up from a coma and not being able to walk, and just waltzing into a woman’s house and murdering her right there. She’s the embodiment of rage and this insatiable bloodlust fuels your own internal hatred for these awful pieces of trash that cost her her life.Things get illuminated rather quickly which is something that Tarantino usually doesn’t do, but all the underlying mysteries keep that suspense and pure emotional involvement strong through all of it. But I think the cream of the crop in this film is the action scenes.
These action scenes are goddamn ridiculous, but to such an extent that you love it. It’s nearly comical how a dude’s head gets chopped off and it’s an actual geyser of blood pouring out of his clean-cut neck. Guts get spilt just by looking at them and there are more murders than there are minutes. The movie doesn’t linger, it throws you right into that bloodbath and it doesn’t care whatsoever if you’re ready or not. The dialogue is still stellar, in traditional Tarantino fashion, but it’s more sullen and clever than the weaving monologues of his other works. It’s direct and there isn’t much to linger on, creating this frantic pace that you’re right there for. Like you’re on a train heading down a cliff and being excited about it.
The whole movie harkens back to early grindhouse films, spaghetti westerns and old kung-fu moves, almost to the point where it becomes those tropes but just far enough for it to be enjoyed in an almost ironic fashion. You’ll often laugh at the absurdity of it and truly, it is absolutely absurd, but I can’t help but just love it with all my heart. The action scene with the waves of yakuza is now in my top fighting scenes of all time and the moment of a young yakuza getting spanked by a legendary crafted sword is now etched into my memory forever. The cinematography, the panning action shots, the small details and sound effects, the immensely fitting music and the nearly antiquated action movie style is more than enough reasons to love this movie. It even has a stellar anime sequence in it that you can’t just exclude in this discussion. The movie even shifted mediums through the course of it and somehow had it make complete sense.
But I’m still not done. The movie ends on such an astounding cliffhanger that it took all of the will in my body to not watch Vol. 2 immediately and only sleeping at 6 am. This is one sequel that I really can’t wait to watch and one that I will explore in next week’s Pile of Shame where I will also discuss the whole Kill Bill saga in more detail.
I needed a cigarette or five after that.