Kill Bill, Vol. 1

So Quentin Tarantino is back. Was he missed? The reason his earlier work was so interesting may have been due to his writing partner Roger Avary. Once the two split ways after Pulp Fiction, the little that Tarantino wrote alone was either god-awful (From Dusk to Dawn, anyone?) or saved by good source material (Jackie Brown, adapted from the novel Rum Punch by the incomparable Elmore Leonard).

It seems to me that Tarantino is admitting that his true talent is not as a writer - or, God help us, an actor - but as a director. He knows how to have fun with genre, can direct iffy actors well, and steals his ideas from the best. So here we basically get two hours of revenge-obsessed Uma Thurman tracking down the team of assassins who left her for dead on her wedding day, and killing everybody she can in the process. Buckets of blood, a deep bow to Asian trash cinema (including Sonny Chiba, Japanese schoolgirls and anime), a minimal amount of dialogue, and Tarantino's trademark nonlinear storytelling is what you get. One big live action video game, basically.

Though the film isn't as exciting as it could have been, I didn't find all the Samurai swordplay that tiring; in fact, I rather wish Miramax had put out Kill Bill as Tarantino's planned four-hour epic instead of splitting it into two separate movies. That way at least I could write a more informed review. All the same, I can at least state, with certainty, that Tarantino, composer RZA, and various music supervisors have come up with a sophisticated soundtrack of obscure, strange, and compelling tracks - leagues ahead of Pulp Fiction's aren't-I-clever soundtrack.