Evan's Eyes


The violence in "Kill Bill," like virtually everything else about Quentin Tarantino, is over-hyped. Sure, there's more violence in "Kill Bill" than sugar in kids' breakfast cereal (the previews are all tightly edited to the brief bits of action that don't involve severed limbs and spewing blood, but don't be fooled; I'd bet the budget for fake blood set a record in American cinema, if anyone's keeping track). But the over-the-top, cartoonish nature of it is like eating too many snack cakes; sensitive people may feel a little queasy afterward, but the effects don't last. Other, better movies have scenes of violence that are much more disturbing (e.g. "Seven" and "American History X"). Still, if you can't understand why an "Itchy & Scratchy" cartoon is funny, you won't like "Kill Bill."

Like breakfast cereal, there is little nutritive value here, but it's not supposed to leave you with Life Lessons. Instead, it's a pop-culture quiz. Tarantino peppers his movies with obscure cultural and movie references for the amusement of himself and the tiny group of aficionados who can get them all. If you don't mind feeling a bit left out, this won't bother you. If you do get them, congratulations; maybe you'll enjoy the film all that much more because of it. Maybe enough to think that Tarantino is brilliant at what he does.

I could be wrong, but I think Tarantino's skill is not creativity, but research. Watching his movies is like reading a doctoral thesis without footnotes; it's hard to tell what parts, if any, are original, and what is derived from other people's work. "Kill Bill" has a cinematographically beautiful swordfight in a snowy Japanese garden. If we looked, would we find another, OLDER movie with a surprisingly similar snowy-garden swordfight? Tarantino makes a big deal about seeing thousands of movies, and he's known to "borrow" heavily from other films. I admit, very little in American cinema is truly original, and Tarantino isn't the only one lifting elements from other stories. The disconnect is when Tarantino's fans rave about his brilliant artistic genius. If he's merely piecing together elements from other movies, I'd say he's a talented craftsman, not an artist. He has skill, but does that qualify as genius? I get the impression that his derivation from other movies is intentional, not cryonesia, but what's the dividing line between homage and plagiarism?

Finally, be aware that "Kill Bill" is only Volume 1 of a two-part movie; it ends right in the middle of the story. Those who saw "Matrix Reloaded" and can't stand waiting for "Matrix Revolutions" will have the same reaction here. Bottom line, "Kill Bill Vol. 1" is half of a bloody but adequate action movie, about par for a matinee or watching on cable during a lazy weekend, but is not a tasty treat for those who don't like extra sugar on their bowl of Violent-O's.

If you liked the movies below, you'll probably like this one (and visa versa):

  • From Dusk Till Dawn
  • Pulp Fiction
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Natural Born Killers
Overall Rating: 5 (where 1=Worthless, 10=Fabulous)

Eight-Facet Info Rating, rated on a scale of 0 (None) to 4 (Lots!)):

Humor: 1
Nudity: 0
Sexual Reference: 2
Sexual Activity: 0
Action: 4
Gore: 4
Violence: 4
Profanity: 3


© 2003 Evan M. Nichols