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Kill Bill Volume 1
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Box Front Director: Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction)
Original Release Year: 2003
Running Time: 111 minutes
Official Website:

DVD Released By: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Video: Anamorphic widescreen
Audio: English 5.1, English DTS, French 5.1
Extras: Making of Kill Bill Volume. 1, music videos, Quentin Tarantino film trailers, printed film review and merchandise flyer
Subtitles: English, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Traditional Chinese
Closed Captions: English
Region: 1
Format: NTSC
Chapters: 20
Packaging: Keepcase
MSRP: $29.99
UPC #: 786936226997
Catalog #: 32210
Status: Available


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Reviewed by:  Jen
The Film: The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, led by Bill, slaughters an entire wedding party in El Paso, Texas.  The pregnant bride, the main target of the Vipers, is the only survivor.  The Bride, aka Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, wakes up after four years in a coma and vows revenge.  She writes her “Death List Five.”  First on the list is O-Ren Ishii, aka Cottonmouth, now the top Yakuza boss in Tokyo.  Next comes Vernita Green, aka Copperhead, now a suburban housewife and mother.  Bill himself is last on the list, and just so there are no disappointments, there is a Kill Bill Volume 2, so Bill survives through Volume 1.

The movie is told in chapters, indicated by title cards.  It is also told out of sequence, so Chapter 1 is called “2” as in number 2 on the list, Vernita Green.  The Bride then travels to Japan, to seek out the famed retired sword maker Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba).  The final chapter takes place in Tokyo.  Before she battles O-Ren Ishii, The Bride must face O-Ren’s bodyguard, the young Gogo Yubari, as well as O-Ren’s band of masked killers, the Crazy 88.  The fight with the Crazy 88 features enough violence and bloodshed for three movies.  All of this fighting leads to the final showdown - a samurai sword fight to the death between O-Ren and The Bride in a snowy, moonlit Japanese garden.

Kill Bill Volume 1 is Quentin Tarantino’s personal film library put through a juicer, and it’s one hell of a drink.  Everything in the movie is familiar to fans of kung-fu and samurai movies, spaghetti westerns, exploitation, and just about any other type of genre film.  (There is even an extended anime sequence detailing the history of O-Ren Ishii.)  These familiar elements are mixed together in such a way to make Kill Bill completely original.  There are myriad inside jokes for genre fans, including the Shaw Brothers’ “Shaw Scope” logo at the beginning of the film, the theme from The Green Hornet, and guest stars such as the Street Fighter himself, Sonny Chiba.

The acting in
Kill Bill Volume 1 is top-notch.  It doesn’t go for the showy, over-the-top feel that is prevalent in other aspects of the movie.  Uma Thurman is especially good, and makes The Bride a sympathetic character even if she is lacking mercy, compassion, and forgiveness.  Thurman’s performance makes The Bride one of the best action heroes in recent memory.

This movie is wall-to-wall action, and over-the-top violence, held together by a simple plot. 
Kill Bill Volume 1 makes no apologies for what it is:  An ultraviolent joyride through 1970’s grindhouse cinema.  So strap in, hold on tight, and enjoy the ride.  Grade:  A-

Video: Kill Bill Volume 1 is a beautiful movie to look at, and this DVD does the picture justice.  The colors are bright and vibrant, and night scenes are crystal clear.  The blood is red (most of the time; more on that in a minute), and nighttime Tokyo is bathed in a neon glow.  Some of the Bride / Crazy 88 fight is in black & white (reportedly to get the extreme amount of bloodletting past the MPAA ratings board), and these scenes are crisp with good contrast.  The film is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio, and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen TV’s.  Grade:  A

Audio: Music and sound effects are an important part of Kill Bill Volume 1, and they sound great on this disk.  All the sounds are very distinct.  Even with the music playing loudly in the background, the swish of the sword, the splatter of blood, and the dialog can still be heard.  The French track sounds good too, but seems rather unnecessary.  (A French subtitle track would be more appropriate.)  I do not have a DTS decoder, so I cannot comment on that option.  Grade:  A

Extras / Menus: For a major studio release, the extras are somewhat limited.  First up, there is a making-of featurette that runs 22 minutes.  It’s amusing to watch, but not very in-depth.

Also included are two music videos by the Japanese group, The 5, 6, 7, 8’s.  The total runtime of the two songs is just under six minutes.  The videos are actually the same performances from the film, but without any cuts away from the band.  The 5, 6, 7, 8’s perform two songs, “I’m Blue” and “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield”.  The songs are amusing.  The lyrics are subtitled, although they are sung in “English.”

Finally, there are trailers for all of Quentin Tarantino’s films: 
Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Volume 1, and Kill Bill Volume 2.  The trailers are non-anamorphic, and Jackie Brown is disappointingly in fullscreen.  The Kill Bill Volume 2 trailer is the same teaser seen in theatres (not a special “sneak peek” at the new movie).

The printed DVD insert contains an in-depth review of the film, by
Citybeat's Andy Klein.  Also packaged with the disk is a flyer showcasing some nifty Kill Bill merchandise, such as action figures, keychains, and lighters.

The menus are all (literally) animated, showing clips from the anime sequence on the main menu, with animated transitions between menus.  The menu screens and animations look really cool.  Everything is easy to navigate. 
Grade:  C+

Final Analysis: Kill Bill Volume 1 is a very fun movie, well presented here, but with limited extras.  There will more than likely be a box set released, hopefully with more extras, after Volume 2 reaches DVD.  Unless you are a hard-core fan, don’t want to wait, or don’t mind buying the same movie twice, you may want to rent this disk and wait until a better version comes out.  Final Grade:  B
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