The 101 Action Movies brought me the fantastic 4th film of writer/director Quentin Tarantino to view again. Broken up over 2 films, released 6 months apart, this film is the ultimate homage to 70s films, be it, the revenge flick, the kung-fu flick, the exploitation flick, it pays respect to all of them, as the journey takes you on a 4 hour journey to a final confrontation.
The Bride (Uma Thurman), is left for dead by her fellow members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, overseen by Bill (David Carradine) during her wedding rehearsal.
Waking from a coma four years later, she is shaken to her core with the knowledge that she has lost the child she was pregnant with, and as she struggles to bring her atrophied muscles back into shape, she begins to plan her vengeance, throwing together her Death List Five list – O-ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen) Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) and Bill.
The film moves back and forth chronologically, divvied up by chapters, showing The Bride’s training with Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), her confrontations with her various former colleagues, including being buried alive by Budd, and facing down O-Ren’s gang the Crazy 88s, in the brilliantly bloody House of Blue Leaves sequence (which was transferred to black and white for the MPAA, who felt it needed to be toned down a bit).
Through it all, the nods to the films influences come fast and quick, whether through the music (a brilliant collection, which tends to be a hallmark of Tarantino films). sound effects, the Shaw Brothers at the film’s open, dialogue, characters, or actors, including legendary Sonny Chiba as Hattori Honzo, the sword-maker who outfits the Bride on her exercise of vengeance.
Tarantino has always had a great ear for exceptional dialogue, as well as character moments, and this film, clocking in at over 4 hours, when you settle in for the whole thing, is rife with them.
It was also the first time I had watched them both in a long, long time, and for four hours, this one races along. I couldn’t believe it when the title card, Last Chapter came up.
There is a revelation at the end of Volume 1, that adds a whole new emotional impact to the second half of the film, a secret we know, but the Bride doesn’t discover until her final showdown with Bill, and that revelation is priceless as it plays out across Thurman’s face. If the House of Blue Leaves sequence is the action highlight, then the revelation at the film’s climax is the emotional one, and it’s played perfectly.
This wonderfully stylized film, combing animation, wire-work, swordplay, simple brutality, humor and violence is a helluva ride, and it was a real joy to settle in and watch this one again. I actually had forgotten how much I enjoyed this one! It makes for a great entry on the 101 Action Movies list, and also made me realize that I haven’t sat down and watched a Tarantino movie in a long time. He creates some of the best soundtracks for his films.
Do you have a favorite Tarantino flick, or soundtrack?