Friday, June 29, 2012

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (Quentin Tarantino)

The showdown.

Always the master of cinematic homages, Quentin Tarantino now offers us a martial arts genre-inspired, revenge-themed film that's best served cold. It's a film that highlights, in bright crimson red, the stupendously over-the-top craziness of martial arts films and how it has captured the imagination of many people who were lucky enough to have seen such pictures. But aside from being an ode to the martial arts genre, "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" is also a fiery introduction to what may be one of the most resonant revenge tales of recent memory.

In a world inhabited by code-bound katana makers (like Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo here) and evil martial arts masters, it would have been out of place to put a frail blonde woman in the middle of it all. But Tarantino, now a filmmaker that has already reached his utmost potential for gender maturity, just did, and the result is truly rewarding. Quite ironic, really, for a director whose first film, the neo-gangster classic "Reservoir Dogs" doesn't even contain a single female character.

And with that, "Kill Bill: Vol. 1" has succeeded in showcasing Tarantino's directorial flair and sheer passion for, this time, everything martial arts. It simulates, as it renders a bygone era of martial arts films in a reinvigorated light, what it's like to be witnessing an old-fashioned film glazed with the language of the fist and the code of the sword once again.

Heightened by Uma Thurman's great performance as the vengeful bride on an unmercifully violent path of revenge who will stop at nothing until, well, he can finally kill the titular Bill, the film's effectiveness is not much because of the plot but because of how this seemingly tired story of blood-soaked revenge has trickily found its way into the screen looking completely different and strangely beautiful once again.

Some playfulness with non-linear narrative on one side, some animation here (one of the most striking features of the film) and a subtly powerful use of 'chapters' there; the clever amalgamation of these aspects has not just made the film something that's truly riveting to watch at surface level but also an intensely unforgettable portrait of what wonders a truly passionate cinephile of a filmmaker like Tarantino can do for a genre that's seemingly buried by time.

Going back to the very narrative, we can simply say that it's a story of a woman's revenge against a former flame that has attempted to kill her, but didn't. So what? What then? What's new? We are repeatedly being fed with films drenched in fearlessly bloodletting vendettas such as this one, with one being crueler yet less fascinating than the previous one. So, again, what's with all the fuss?

Well, the answers for all of those lie within the very film itself. The film, for a lack of a better persuasion coming from yours truly, needs to be seen to be believed. To be seen as a highly stylish action film. To be believed as a truly unique cinematic experience.

"Kill Bill: Vol. 1" may not possess the complexity or depth of "Pulp Fiction", but at the end of the day, its distinction as a great Tarantino film by its own right lies not within the plot or the characters themselves but within the courage of pulling off such a film and how it was done in the most brilliant of ways and the most outlandishly exceptional of styles.

In a time where movies wallow on old ideas that pretend to be something new, it's invigorating to watch a film that's humble enough to embrace old ideas but ingenious enough to render it familiar yet fresh all at the same breath. This film may not necessarily be the 'one' that will immortalize the martial arts genre, but it sure has put the seemingly forgotten genre into prominence once more, and dare declared the greatness of its peculiar aesthetics.


No comments:

Post a Comment

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

Ivan6655321's Schneider 1001 movies widget