Kill Bill, Vol. 1: Appropriating Shakespeare and Kurosawa (Part Two)

Kill Bill, Vol. 1: Appropriating Shakespeare and Kurosawa (Part Two)

With such a broad historical underpinning, it would make sense that the dialogue, something for which Tarantino was already known, would come off rather easy being cribbed, borrowed and appropriated from any number of sources. And maybe it would have if not for some of the wooden performances turned in.

As the Bride, Uma Thurman was extending her Hollywood cache to unforeseen places – being the focal point of about four hours of footage. Her performance in this first film, though, isn’t too remarkable. Certainly the physicality required for this role was daunting, but even in the Bride’s first fight scene where she’s pitted against Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), finds the actress trading nonsensical lines that could have come off if not for the delivery.

It’s interesting, though, that a number of phrases which were first used in Pulp Fiction, the film which arguably broke Thurman to a mass audience, are recast here.

Immediately after Green sends her daughter to her bedroom and just following the destruction of the Green’s living room, the Bride, leaning on the kitchen counter says something about “being square” with each other. The line harkens back to the scene in which Thurman’s character in Pulp Fiction is sitting next to John Travolta’s Vincent Vega and tells him not to be a square, while simultaneously tracing the figure in air. It’s a vague reference, but an intentional one on the part of Kill Bill’s writer.

The two characters – the Bride and Mia from Pulp Fiction - don’t share too much in common personality wise. With the Bride being assaulted during the film’s opening scene and in each subsequent section, there are a number of visually references Tarantino makes as he forces viewers to recall Mia’s overdose from the earlier film.

What’s most interesting about Kill Bill’s first half, though, is the fact that the villains are all women. Granted, the film’s focal point – killing Bill – involves the hunting down of this enigmatic, unseen male figure, but every noteworthy battle here is between the Bride and another women.

Tarantino’s favoring Thurman is well documented. Whether his appreciation for her bordered on obsession is beyond guessing. But with his avowed interest in ‘70s exploitation fair and having just worked with Pam Grier, who started in more than a few scenes where she was barley clothed, it’s not too much of a stretch to figure Kill Bill, Vo.l 1 as an attempt on the part of the director to craft a film concerned with the female form in action. Too bad, the last thirty minutes or so of the film was given over to a nonsensical, far too indulgent fight scene. At least there’s another hour and change left to watch.