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Category:    Home > Reviews > Martial Arts > Action > Kill Bill, Volume 1 + 2 (Miramax Blu-ray)

Kill Bill, Volume 1 + 2 (Miramax Blu-ray)

 

Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: C+     Film: B

 

 

After so many dramas that happened to feature martial arts, including overrated Fantasy genre works from Ang Lee and endless (and usually bad) Action films with little story and fights that are badly staged and shot to say the least, there was a buzz and excitement when huge martial arts film fan Quentin Tarantino said he would make his epic film of the genre.  He had never been so ambitious, but when all was said and done, Kill Bill would more than meet expectations.  The only thing was, the film was so long, Miramax cut it into two halves and now, both have arrived on Blu-ray and are terrific in the new HD format.

 

Uma Thurman (coming back from being wasted as Mrs. Emma Peel in the awful feature film revival of the British TV classic The Avengers) plays a pregnant bride who is attacked, beaten and almost killed as she is about to get married.  Unfortunately for them, they did not finish her off like they thought and she barely survives.  Now recovered, she has made a list and intends to eliminate every assassin (played very well by Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Lucy Liu) all the way up to the man who hired them: Bill (David Carradine).

 

With dark humor and a tension between that humor and suspense that never lets up, this is a true labor of love that brings Tarantino to a new level of directing craftsmanship and is an amazing tour de force that shows a filmmaker who has a new grasp of the cinema, a new confidence and new sense of power that more than any of his formidable, previous works, shows a world-class filmmaker who can go a few rounds with anyone.  But the best part of it all is that more than the likes of a Crouching Tiger, Kill Bill shows that the Martial Arts films are A-movie material and is not just stuck in nostalgia or in some grindhouse stereotype, even though it never holds back its edge, violence or pulls any punches in respect to its revenge plot.  Instead, even with all the great sources it is derivative of, Kill Bill is a classic and one of these days will be recognized as such.  These Blu-rays should help that point.

 

 

The 1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on both discs is outstanding as shot in Super 35mm film by the great Robert Richardson, A.S.C., whose previous work with the likes of Martin Scorsese and Oliver Stone reinforces the fact that he is one of the greatest cinematographers of all time.  Because Tarantino was trying to recreate so many aspects of the Martial Arts genre and 1970s B-cinema in general, it gave Richardson plenty of golden opportunities to pull off shots and compositions he normally would not get the chance to take a crack at.  That includes mano-a-mano fight scenes in the mode of the early Sean Connery/James Bond films that give this film extra edge and impact.

 

Color is very consistent; grain is minimal and often used for stylizing and the depth, solid look and clarity shot after shot make both discs a visual treat in playback the DVDs could never begin to equal.  This is especially apparent in the first film, where the casuals tell the story and if you cannot keep up with the approach, then you’ll only like the second film in a reactionary fashion.

 

The PCM 24/48 5.1 sound mixes are also outstanding, from the use of music samples through The Rza and Robert Rodriguez to sound design that is top rate and can go more than a few rounds with the most expensive blockbusters Hollywood has produced of late.  It is more than demo material, but a rich sound mix with nuance and character that will stun anyone who loves filmmaking and/or has a great home theater system.  I wish more soundtracks were this exceptional.

 

Extras include making of featurettes for each film on its respective Blu-ray disc, while Volume 1 adds the “5, 6, 7, 8s” Bonus Musical Performances and a set of Tarantino Trailers that include Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, Jackie Brown, Kill Bill, V.1 bootleg trailer and teasers for both Kill Bill films.  Volume 2 adds the “Damoe” deleted scene and “Chingon” Musical Performance.  I would have liked even more extras, but when the playback is this exceptional, I’ll take high performance instead.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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