Quentin Tarantino’s filmography has no shortage of classics. How could you forget his crime thriller Reservoir Dogs? Or his second feature that broke film rules and defined pop culture, Pulp Fiction. There’s also Jackie Brown or Inglorious Basterds. However, there’s one underrated gem in his catalog that easily the best film is his filmography, Kill Bill (both volumes 1 and 2 combined). For those of you who have been living rock, the film centers around The Bride (Uma Thurman) waking up from a coma and killing everyone who’s responsible for her attempted murder, including Bill. It’s a revenge thriller that both satisfies the revenge and story aspects.
We’re instantly thrust into the world by the opening scene of Bill being at his most sadistic, and then fast forward to the amazing fight sequence between Vernita Green and Beatrix Kiddo. These early scenes showcase the mastery of Tarantino’s direction. He’s able to balance tension, action, and comedy seamlessly. Despite Green and Kiddo’s somewhat friendly banter once Nikki comes home, the purpose of the story remains intact and the dynamic between the former Deadly Viper Assassination Squad members helps sell the premise of the film. From there, Tarantino focuses on the action and style, though he doesn’t forget one of the key rules in storytelling: To write compelling characters. Whether it’s O-Ren Ishii, Go Go Yubari, Hattori Hanzo, or Elle Driver, we’re given a reason to understand these characters and it helps that they all have colorful personalities. Go Go is arguably the standout. Her quick and bloody backstory highlights just how psycho the bodyguard is and Go Go’s fight against The Bride is arguably the best in the entire film. It’s a shame that Quentin Tarantino never made that script of Go Go’s sister, Yuki Yubari.
One of the most amazing sequences in the film is the animated retelling of O-Ren Ishii’s life before she became a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Usually, this would be a jawing move in most live-action movies. The anime aspects were never established early in the film and it completely disappears once O-Ren Ishii’s backstory is done. However, the transition feels smooth and it can easily be dismissed as an inventive story time element of the film. The over-the-top violence also adds character to Kill Bill, with blood squirting out like a water hose being absurd, but funny. Of course, the importance of a revenge film is well…the revenge, and seeing The Bride getting sweet justice on Vernita Green and O-Ren Ishii was great. Smartly, the fight sequences are all different. The Bride and Go Go’s archaic and cartoonish battle contrast from the realistic approach taken in the fights against O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green. Even then, those matches differ in style.
Vol. 2 admittingly slows things down. In fact, it can be very jarring for some since the first chapter was mostly a blood-soaked entry; however, Vol. 2 fills out the necessary parts that round out The Bride, Bill, and Elle Driver as characters. The fights aren’t as gonzo crazy as The Bride’s battle in Japan; however, they feel personal with higher stakes. It helps that Budd was the one Assassin to actually beat Beatrix Kiddo. It made her look human because she wasn’t the nearly invincible assassin that she appeared to be in the Crazy 88 fight. Also, the intriguing question of, “What will she do next” helped keep the story compelling and gave The Bride an important obstacle to overcome. Vol. 2 may not be the violent rampage that the first chapter was; however, it was still a masterclass in how to tell a narrative story. The entire film combined expertly fills the blood lust for fans who want The Bride to hack and slash with murderous glee, yet for film aficionados who prefer story instead of over-the-top action. It’s essentially the perfect film. This doesn’t mean that I’m knocking on Reservoir Dogs, Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction, or any other of Tarantino’s works; however, when I think of the total package in a Tarantino film then Kill Bill takes the cake. No, I’m not proclaiming that this is some extraordinary masterpiece better than The Godfather or Goodfellas; However, I am marking this as the best film Quentin Tarantino has made thus far.