When was the last time you drank your coffee with salt? I ask because this is the easiest way to imagine how unpleasant "Kill Bill" would be on the tongue. To find talented writer/director Quentin Tarantino make such a distasteful brew of senseless fiction and blood-soaked violence as his much publicised 4th film is disappointing though not altogether surprising given his past fondness for extremes. Tarantino broke into Hollywood by 1992 with the genre-defying "Reservoir Dogs," a film about a botched heist and strangers with funny names, followed that up with an ultra-hip "Pulp Fiction" (1994) nominated for so many Oscars that I can hardly remember and then laid bare the underrated, but highly accomplished, "Jackie Brown" (1997). What those three films had in common were meticulously developed human relationships that drove the story and moved the audience. "Kill Bill," on the other hand, is a pretentious and terribly violent action film that pales in comparison because, when all is said and done, it's only just another hollow tale of revenge.
Playing out in non-chronological order (a Tarantino trademark), the story kicks off with a bloody and very pregnant bride (Uma Thurman), at the receiving end of ex-boss Bill's (David Carradine) shotgun. Despite cries for mercy the trigger is pulled and the Bride, an unnamed former assassin in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, is sent reeling into four years of coma. Back from the dead, she is now very mad and out to get even with the mysterious Bill and his deadly gang of thugs – she then proceeds, literally, to strike them off her hit list one by one. A few grisly fights later comes to the much needed conclusion of "Kill Bill: Vol. 1." We are left strung high amid a frenzied revelation of a pivotal plot point just before the end credits roll. But, by that time previous events in the film should have numbed our senses and desensitised us to any emotional credence. Case in point: even though Uma Thurman plays her strong-willed protagonist with notable conviction, we feel indifferent to the Bride's enormous tragedy. This is because the film is merciless in its portrayal of life and gleefully sadistic in the depiction of death. Why should we care about a world where good and bad guys speak the same language, use the same weapons of choice?
To like "Kill Bill" it is important to see how far you will indulge yourself in Tarantino's platter of homage and apparent obsession with kung-fu movies of the 70s. Regular viewers not acquainted with obscure genres – from which the source material is inspired - may be baffled by the script's adherence to certain "rules." But, to give credit where it's due, the film does score high marks in the technical department with its scrumptious cinematography, well choreographed fights and razor-sharp editing. Ultimately, it is all style and no substance.
I cannot get back the 110 minutes I spent watching this pointless, depraved entertainment. No matter. To give "Kill Bill: Volume 2" a loud snub upon its eventual release in 2004 will be my revenge. - Adnan Khan