Review: Films Set In Japan – ‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1′ (2003)

This stylised revenge film is centred around Uma Thurman’s character who is known as The Bride and having been left for dead at a church in El Paso by her ex-boyfriend Bill she wakes from her coma four years later and basically has a hit-list of people as her quest for vengeance begins. She sets about hunting down Bill’s gang members who destroyed her life and killed her baby before finishing things off with Bill himself (seen in Vol. 2). ‘Kill Bill’ was actually split into two with the follow-up released shortly after the first part and back in July it was announced that a third part will come out in the future though god knows how the story will continue.

The Bride flies to Okinawa which was no doubt just filmed in the studio as it only features the sushi bar (below right) and workshop of retired sword maker Hattori Hanzo (one of Bill’s former tutors) where she goes to to aquire the perfect sword needed for her revenge attacks. Tokyo appears on screen just after the hour mark as we see The Bride riding her motorcycle over Rainbow Bridge and through Shinjuku (below left) as she heads to a restaurant (lower left and right).

   

As I mentioned in a post a couple of years ago ‘Gonpachi’ is the restaurant in Nishi-Azabu which served as the inspiration for the ‘House of Blue Leaves’ as the photo frame (below left) hanging in the restaurant shows. This very nice, cavernous, rustic-themed place (below right) was not actually used though as a similar looking one was built on a soundstage in the studios in China. It was used for the extensive and bloody slice and dice one-against-all scene which precedes her showdown with O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) outside that place in the snow.

 

I don’t mind director Quentin Tarentino’s works prior to this film but I’m certainly no big fan of his weird trademarks and unfortunately I don’t have much idea about what kind of cinema (particularly the Japanese films) inspired his work on ‘Kill Bill’.  Things like bleeping out The Bride’s name a couple of times as well as black & white shots and an anime introduction to O-Ren Ishii are thought by many as being quirky but I personally just find them a bit irritating. Furthermore the dialogue is a bit cheesy, corny and over-dramatic but maybe that was the idea. I should add that none of the aforementioned things really spoiled my enjoyment of this movie.

If you ask me (and I know you didn’t!) I think its the great soundtrack that enriches this film and its the eclectic mix of musical genres which accompany the almost continuous  blood and gore as well as the great sword fighting sequences which are great though the viewer does need to suspend their belief quite a bit.

 

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