I was a little disappointed by Kill Bill, and I didn’t even go into the theatre expecting too much. The main problem was the fact that the fighting was boring. Everything was shot too close up to tell what was going on and the angles changed too much (all to hide the fact that the actors and actresses don’t actually know how to fight — whereas Uma may have taken months of training, actors in true Hong Kong fighting movies have taken a lifetime). The camera was just way too close to the action so everyone just looked like they were swinging katanas around without seeing any actual technique. I felt like the fighting was too simple, unsatisfying and anticlimactic; the protagonist simply kills each person with one final blow. I would rather have her adjust to each characters’ fighting style and adapt her abilities in an intelligent manner. The classic “good guy loses at first then figures out a weakness and wins in the end” could have been taken from. A good example would be in Return of the Dragon where Bruce Lee switches up his fighting style against the big boss or the famous final mirror scene in Enter the Dragon where he puts the last boss at a disadvantage by smashing in all the mirrors. When the action, which is supposed to be the main part of the movie, isn’t very good the film falls flat.
The revenge scenes didn’t have too much of a lead-up either, causing them to be rather pointless. There were no training/practicing scenes, no test of abilities before fighting, and a rather shallow “get sword” preparation, causing there to be no real drive for the protagonist to kill, other than what we were told about her attempted murder. It all made the fighting not as satisfying as it could have been, which was supposed to be another big draw of the film.
I did enjoy the hommage to Game of Death (a very similar revenge movie) with the yellow jumpsuit and the tribute to Darren Aronofsky’s original camera work in the lead up to the lethal injection scene. There was one extremely challenging shot in the club that went on for about a minute, reminiscent of what P.T. Anderson does in the first five minutes of Boogie Nights, although Anderson is much better at it (a dozen characters, multiple floors and rooms without cheating in an open studio). I enjoyed the gory humour and Tarantino’s excessive wit, possibly the best thing of the movie. My favourite part is when O‑Ren Ishii performs to-rei.
Kill Bill was supposed to draw from Hong Kong action cinema, but it ended up just being a movie with Tarantino style and some boring action thrown in. If I wanted to see a gritty Hong Kong action movie, I’d rather watch Hard Boiled. If I wanted to see authentic Chinese weapon fighting and martial arts, I’d rather watch Shaolin Temple. If I wanted to see a satisfying revenge movie, I’d rather watch Titus. If I wanted to watch some sick and gory anime, I’d rather watch Kite. If I wanted to see a movie with Tarantino styling, I’d rather watch Pulp Fiction. All the parts of the movie that are supposed to be good have been done better elsewhere. The film draws from lot of things, but doesn’t excel in any area. There’s no doubt in my mind that Tarantino is a born director, but he hasn’t developed a decent action style yet. The movie is worth watching once simply because he’s the director, but a second viewing is rather unnecessary.