Tuesday, November 28, 2023

2K Replay: KILL BILL VOL. 1

 by Adam Riske

Nominated for Best Picture at the Central Ohio Film Critics Association Awards. It lost to Lost in Translation.

• Best Scene/Moment (tie): The indoor brawl at the House of Blue Leaves and the duel between The Bride (Uma Thurman) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) in the Japanese garden outside of the restaurant.

• Best Song (tie): The soundtrack is amazing, so this is tough. I’ll go with a tie between “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by Santa Esmeralda and “Nobody but Me” by Human Beinz. I also really like “The Lonely Shepherd” by Gheorghe Zamfir and “Twisted Nerve” by Bernard Herrmann.
• Best Merch: A “Kill Bill: Vol. 1 And We Deserve to Die Giclee Print Poster…” for $124.00. This is one of the coolest fan posters I’ve ever seen (mixing the poster art design for the original A Nightmare on Elm Street with Kill Bill). I kinda want to buy this. It’s phenomenal.

• Director Grade: Kill Bill: Vol. 1 was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, who I would consider on most days to be my favorite filmmaker. My first Tarantino movie was Reservoir Dogs, which I saw on cable many times during the fall and winter of 1994. I wasn’t allowed to see Pulp Fiction in theaters (which I wanted to very badly) so Dogs was a consolation prize because I could sneak off and watch it. I finally did get to see Pulp Fiction during its Oscar re-issue in early 1995. It blew me away and has gone on to become my third favorite movie of all time, also opening the door for me to seek out more independent cinema during my late middle school/early teen years. Quentin Tarantino made me into a better/more adventurous moviegoer, simple as that. Over the years, I’ve had an interesting reaction to Tarantino movies with some I got right away (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Inglorious Basterds) while others I liked but needed to warm up to more over multiple viewings (Jackie Brown, Kill Bill Vol. 2). Maybe my favorite thing about Tarantino is listening to him talk about film. I often seek out long-form interviews and podcasts he’s done where he talks about eras of filmmaking or his latest releases. I adored Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (which is my second favorite film of his) so I’m sad that his next film (The Movie Critic) is well-publicized as being likely Tarantino’s last movie, but I will say I understand his impulse to hang it up and keep his near-immaculate filmography intact. Overall Grade: A+

• Double It with This 2003 Movie: Once Upon a Time in Mexico

• Year 2003 Movies to Trailer Before It: Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, Oldboy, Paycheck
Draft Day or Kill Bill: Vol. 1? Kill Bill: Vol. 1

• Mall Movie? Yeah, because it’s a martial arts/revenge movie. Those would play at the mall.

• Only in 2003: “Battle Without Honor or Humanity” (by Tomoyasu Hotei) and “Woo Hoo” (by the 5. 6. 7. 8’s) being awesome songs before they were ruined for me by placement in TV commercials and IT corporate event sizzle reels.

• Scene Stealer: Sonny Chiba.

• I Miss: Sally Menke.

• I Don’t Miss: Harvey Weinstein.

• 2003 Crush: Lucy Liu.

• 2023 Crush (tie): Julie Dreyfus and Lucy Liu.
• What I Thought in 2003: Seeing Kill Bill: Vol. 1 on opening night at my college movie theater was up there with my favorite moviegoing moments during that time. I was absolutely blown away by the movie in 2003. I remember it was the first movie I went back to see a second time the very next day and I ended up seeing it four times total in theaters during its first and second runs. It was one of the most exciting action movies I’d ever seen which was somewhat surprising based on the three previous Quentin Tarantino movies that were set in the world of crime but didn’t have action set-pieces anywhere near this scale. P.S. I’ll also never forget seeing Kill Bill: Vol. 1 on opening night because a guy had a seizure during the “Wiggle your big toe” scene and the theater stopped the movie for about a half hour. He ended up being alright, which is the most important thing.

• What I Think in 2023: I still love the movie although if I’m forced to pick between Vol. 1 and Kill Bill: Vol. 2, I probably prefer the latter these days despite feeling the opposite way 20 years ago. Uma Thurman’s performance is now my main takeaway when I revisit Kill Bill in 2023. She was more than deserving of an Academy Award nomination for her work here and brings a real heart to the movie that I think is one of its secret ingredients. Kill Bill: Vol. 1 remains a very fun, action-packed movie that I can easily pick up and watch almost any time.


  1. Agreed! The poster is excellent but KBv1 had such good merch. I had a mug, shot glasses, a subway quad poster from the UK, a keychain bear with a hanzo sword, wearing the yellow tracksuit with the top part for their skull sliced! (Only didn't get the PW keychain) but the coolest was the Neca figures which included blood packs with the ceazy 88 figures, so you could recreate the houseof blue leaves at home!

  2. Kill Bill is my favorite QT. I tend to prefer volume 2 just slightly over volume 1 but it's super close. Around the time this movie came out, I happened upon a yellow bomber jacket in a thrift store that I wore regularly, imagining I was Beatrix Kiddo.

    That seizure incident sounds harrowing--glad the dude ended up being ok!