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KILL BILL: VOLUME 1

For those unfamiliar with this particular title, KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 ($35) is the first half of writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s brilliant homage to chopsocky, samurai, revenge and exploitation cinema. Originally intended as an epic, four-hour magnum opus, KILL BILL was divided into two halves to save the audience’s posteriors and to double box office receipts. Walking out of the theater after witnessing the first installment, I have to tell ya, I loved every over-the-top frame of KILL BILL: VOLUME 1. However, I also knew there would be those who wouldn’t love the movie because of the excessive levels of violence. Of course, every bit of violence one witnesses in KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 is so beautifully orchestrated, choreographed and photographed that it never truly seems real- but still manages to pack a wallop in terms of sensory overload.

In his usual non-linear storytelling fashion, Tarantino introduces the audience to the character only referred to as The Bride (Uma Thurman), who is very pregnant and is beaten then shot down on her wedding day, along with the rest of the bridal party. Just before she is shot in the head, The Bride reveals to her old boss and former lover Bill (David Carradine) that he is the baby’s father. Left for dead, The Bride turns out to be the only survivor of the El Paso wedding chapel massacre. Awakening from a four-year coma, The Bride morns the loss of her unborn child and sets out on a mission of vengeance.

As the back-story comes to light, we learn that The Bride once went by the code name Black Mamba, and that she a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, which was headed up by Bill. The other members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad that participated in the El Paso wedding chapel massacre are as follows: O-Ren Ishii AKA Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green AKA Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox), Elle Driver AKA California Mountain Snake (Daryl Hannah) and Budd AKA Sidewinder (Michael Madsen). As KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 plays out, The Bride seeks Japanese steel from renowned swordsmith Hattori Hanzō (Sonny Chiba), then has encounters with the top two items on her hit list- Vernita Green (now a housewife) and O-Ren Ishii (who has risen to the position of boss among bosses of the Yakuza). The cast of KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 also features Julie Dreyfus, Chiaki Kuriyama, Michael Parks, Michael Bowen, Jun Kunimura and Kenji Ohba.

Miramax Home Entertainment has made KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 available on Blu-ray Disc in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio presentation that has been encoded onto the disc with the AVC codec. The 1080p presentation is a killer. Tarantino mixes and matches different photographic styles throughout the course KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 and the Blu-ray handles it all without blinking. Overall, the levels of image sharpness, clarity, dimensionality and detail are truly impressive. Fine details such as textures, individual hair, the pores and lines in the actors’ faces are rendered exceptionally well. Colors are beautifully saturated and rock stable. Flesh tones look terrific. Blacks are on the money, as are the white. The black and white footage also scores very highly. Contrast and shadow detail get top marks, even in sequences where the whites are intentionally blown out. There is grain in the image to varying degrees- all very appropriate and all very film like.

KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 is presented on Blu-ray Disc with a 5.1 channel uncompressed PCM soundtrack. Not surprisingly, the soundtrack is also a killer. The sound design is highly aggressive and takes full advantage of all the outlying channels, which are utilized to effortlessly to Ping-Pong and bounce the action around the entire soundstage. Fidelity also gets top marks, providing convincing sound effects, plus excellent musical reproduction for the pop song heavy track. The bass channel is deep and adds just the right amount of percussive force. Dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand. English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 channel tracks are also encoded onto the disc, as are English and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the disc's interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to standard scene selection and set up features, as well as some extras. The Making Of Kill Bill, Volume 1 is a twenty-two minute interview based look at the production. The 5, 6, 7, 8’s are also on hand to provide two additional music performances. A Quentin Tarantino trailer gallery closes the supplements.

KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 is an absolute blast. The Blu-ray presentation is fabulous. Unquestionably recommended.

 

KILL BILL: VOLUME 1 


Kill Bill - Volumes 1 & 2 [Blu-ray]

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DVD & Blu-rayDisc reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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