Tuesday, October 14, 2003

KILL BILL volume I: ROCKS!(WARNING: some spoilers!)

dismembered limbs. decapitated bodies. blood fountains all over. a cool cool (and cool again) soundtrack sourcing music from sources as diverse as postmodern asian rock bands doing rock n' roll and boogie-woogie, western instrumentals, brazilian riffs to bernard herrmann, isaac hayes and quincy jones. thankfully, i could spot the green hornet theme (itself laden with borrowings from rimsky-korsakov's the flight of the bumblebee), and ennio morricone and hayes, but i completely missed the herrmann. when I finally heard the track (from the work he did for a film called Twisted Nerve) (thanks to an online sampler), i didn't feel too bad: very very deceptive (and yet, very very herrmann). the pasha of blood and gore rears his head after 11 years to bring us a well-done pastiche of spaghetti westerns and 70s martial arts flicks complete with strange subtitles, in-jokes (Shaw-Scope, the presence of Sonny Chiba on the cast), excellently choreographed fight sequences and a simple plot. Yes, a simple plot: a tale of good old-fashioned revenge. The Bride (codename: Black Mamba) (her real name is bleeped every time someone -- to be precise, Copperhead -- utters it: all we know is the name she assumed for her fatal wedding, Arlene Machiavelli) is out for revenge -- the only survivor of an El Paso carnage (9 victims), she is now going to Kill Bill, (menacingly played by David Carradine, more homage!) her former employer (and lover) in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, who is responsible for the bloody massacre, along with the other partners in crime: Copperhead, Cottenmouth, California Mountain Snake and Sidewinder. The film opens by proclaiming (in falsely-aged footage) that it has been made in Shaw-Scope (an ode to the Shaw Brothers, whose production company was responsible for myriad martial arts flicks). We are then introduced to the film's ultra-postmodernist bent as the opening quote comes up: "Revenge is a dish best served cold", an old Klingon proverb (the true origins of this phrase made famous by Khan in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan are debatable). There's another Star Trek reference later on in the film, but don't let that worry you: fans of B-martial flicks will relish all the references bouncing across the place. There's enough blood and dismemberment in this grindhouse fest to satisfy all Tarantino fans (trust me: there's enough gore in the film to send you from shock to laughter in no time), and there's also some anime (which Tarantino elevates to new levels of bloodness). Now, all I have to do, is find something to do before volume II comes out. NOTE: If you're expecting a textured plot, forget it. Ever heard of a revenge flick with a multi-layered plot? Go fetch! And if you thought he was going to come up with something critically satisfying like Jackie Brown, perish the thought. This is a well-deserved return to Reservoir Dogs. Students of film genre and crossovers will relish the western soundtrack extracts playing over Asian martial arts action sequences.

related: the official web site | a more useful fan-run site | details about the soundtrack and the soundtrack review | the AMG page for the soundtrack | more soundtrack information from Maverick (the label releasing the soundtrack)

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