Kill Bill: Volume 1 is a 2003 American action/thriller film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. It is the first of two films that were theatrically released several months apart, the second one titled Kill Bill Volume 2.
Kill Bill was originally scheduled for a single theatrical release, but with a running time of over four hours, it was separated into two volumes. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released in late 2003, and Kill Bill: Volume 2 was released in early 2004. The two films are frequently referred to collectively as simply “Kill Bill.”
They follow a character initially identified as “The Bride”, a former member of an assassination team who seeks revenge on her ex-colleagues who massacred members of her wedding party and tried to kill her. The movie is often noted for its stylish direction and its homages to film genres such as Hong Kong martial arts films, Japanese chanbara films, Italian spaghetti westerns, girls with guns, and rape and revenge; resultingly, Kill Bill has gained a cult-movie status with action movie aficionados worldwide.
The film opens with an intertitle displaying the proverb “Revenge is a dish best served cold” (though the quote is credited as being an “Old Klingon Proverb”, as it was in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan). A pregnant Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman), known as “The Bride”, lies badly wounded at her wedding, telling an unseen Bill (David Carradine) that she is carrying his baby, as he shoots her in the head. We later learn that she miraculously survived the head shot but was left comatose for four years.
Out of sequence, the film shows Kiddo’s second revenge killing following her recovery. Kiddo finds Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) at her home and fights her, but they cease after Vernita’s young daughter Nikki arrives from school. It is revealed that both women are former members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, elite assassins under the employ of Bill. Bill had ordered the attack on Kiddo in revenge for her decision to leave Bill and secretly marry. While the two women are talking in the kitchen during their truce, Vernita attempts to kill Kiddo with a revolver hidden in a box of “Kaboom” cereal. The shot misses Kiddo, who retaliates with a throwing knife to Vernita’s chest, and she dies slowly. When Kiddo notices Nikki standing in the doorway, she offers Nikki revenge should she seek it as an adult, then leaves. Kiddo then strikes Vernita’s name off a checklist; the name “O-Ren Ishii” has already been crossed out.
Going back to the time of her coma, another member of the Deadly Vipers, the one-eyed Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), enters Kiddo’s hospital room where she lies comatose, and prepares a lethal injection but is interrupted by Bill on the phone, who states they will take action only if she wakes. Four years later, Kiddo awakens and is horrified to discover that she is no longer pregnant, leading her to assume that her baby is dead. Meanwhile, she learns that a corrupt hospital worker by the name of Buck has been raping her in her comatose state, and accepting cash from those who wish the chance to do the same. While a trucker is preparing to assault her, Kiddo bites his lower lip, tearing it from his face, and presumably kills him. She then incapacitates and possibly kills Buck by repeatedly smashing his head between a door and its jamb, and steals Buck’s truck. She swears revenge, and picks her first target: O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), who has since become the leader of the Tokyo yakuza (Japanese mafia).
Once physically recovered, Kiddo travels to Okinawa to obtain a sword from retired legendary swordsmith Hattori Hanzō (Sonny Chiba), who has ceased weapon-making and sworn never to forge a sword again. After learning that her target is his former student, Bill, he agrees he is morally obligated to forge his finest sword for her. Kiddo tracks down O-Ren at a Tokyo nightclub, challenging her to a fight and severing the arm of Sofie Fatale (Julie Dreyfus), O-Ren’s assistant and a protégée of Bill’s. She then fights off O-Ren’s Yakuza army, including the elite “Crazy 88” squad and O-Ren’s personal bodyguard, 17-year-old sadist Gogo Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama), before dueling O-Ren in a snow-draped Japanese garden and killing her. She finally tortures Sofie by systematic dismemberment into revealing information about Bill, leaving Sofie alive to tell Bill that Kiddo is coming to kill him and the others. The film ends with Bill asking Sofie if Kiddo knows that her daughter is still alive.
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First Published: Mar 4, 2012 – Last Updated: Apr 20, 2013