Kill Bill Volume One Blu-Ray Review

Cover Art & Menus: 8/10
I’ll start with the menus because I was more impressed with them than with the cover art, to be honest. The menus are very cool with clips from the anime scenes in the movie and excellent graphics. I’m not always into flashy menus, but this Blu-Ray does it up right.

The cover art is great, don’t get me wrong, but it falls under the category of totally predictable. The yellow rocks, I love The Bride’s suit, but as a cover it’s just a bit of a “so-so” for me. For the record, my husband (Ascully) LOVES the cover, so to each his/her own.

Extras & Features: 7/10
Where’s the extensive interviews? Where’s the commentary? Where’s the twelve hour long making of footage? Not on this Blu-Ray disc, that’s for sure. But, you do get a few things that make it almost worth the $30.00 price tag. (reminder: I despise unfairly priced Discs)

  • Behind the scenes featurette – This is an excellent extra, even if it’s too short. I love hearing Tarantino talk about movies, not just his own. He explains how Kill Bill came to be, which was a surprise to me. It was Uma Thurman who came up with the main character and over the years she and Quentin just sort of knocked it into a script. We get to see some of how the soundtrack came to be with a brief interview with RZA from Wu Tang Clan who discusses his obsession with movies and how he and Tarantino battle it out for who knows the most about Japanese and Exploitation flicks. We find out how the cool Japanese girl band “The 5,6,7,8’s” came to be in the movie, and how Thurman’s first pregnancy almost got her recast in the movie….or maybe not. I appreciate this little featurette, but it’s just too damn short. I’m greedy. I want more more more.
  • Musical Performances by “The 5,6,7,8’s” – A couple of songs done by the cool band who proceed the bloodiest scene in any movie you will see in a long time. They are singing on the set and it looks like cast and crew who are boogying in the crowd. I think Tarantino just liked them so much he turned the cameras on them and had them do a few extra songs that are not featured in the movie. If this doesn’t make you want to go get a few Japanese pop tunes I don’t know what will.
  • Quentin Tarantino Trailers – Trailers are not that exciting usually, but it’s good this time since it’s like an actual collection of Tarantino trailers, not just a bunch of unrelated trailers stuck on to promote upcoming flicks.

The Movie 9/10

A story about a warrior is always intriguing. You get a glimpse at the disciplined mind, the tortured soul, the gripping choices they make to sacrifice their own happiness to replace it with fulfilling their mission, or missions. How do you know what you would do if you were to be stripped of your loved ones, your lifestyle, your belongings, and the only thing you had left was a burning desire to get revenge on the people who took it all away? It might be fodder for filmmakers around the world, but think about it in real life for a minute. Just how far would you go to avenge the death of your own spouse, friends, or your own child?

While there is a lot of over the top visual effects (blood blood blood, and squirting blood) for you to battle with in this movie, the heart of it really is the character we follow from her disastrous wedding day complete with gunshot wound to the head, through a four year coma, and to her current path of vengeance that treks the globe. She’s not immortal nor does she have super powers, but she’s got justice to dole out and sometimes that gives her just that little bit of extra kick she needs to plough through countless sword fights and knock down drag out brawls.

There is a lot of borrowing that Tarantino has so fondly turned into what can be called paying homage to his favorite styles of movies. I would just say he’s taking some cool stuff from different genres and throwing it all into a blender to see what comes out. I love the style, which I don’t think I need to describe to anyone who has seen a Quentin movie, and the incredible intensity that basically slams you in the face from start to finish. It doesn’t give you a moment to reflect or contemplate, that analyzing stuff is for after the movie.

Between Uma Thurman’s convincing portrayal of a very determined ex-hitwoman turned vigilante, and some villains you might even dislike as much as Hans Gruber (Die Hard villain supreme), you are willingly lured into 111 minutes of bloody retribution where severed limbs and old school Samurai training make perfect sense. There are a few moments of pure clarity when the music and the images on the screen conjure up some kind of movie watching magic. When Darrell Hanna does her “whistling” scene heading to Thurman’s certain doom, the combination of eerie whistling, hospital setting, odd costume, eye patch, and split screen all converge with what can only be described as a hypnotic out of theater experience. I just got lost in the moment, which I find unbelievably satisfying when I’m watching a movie. It’s too rare that this feeling happens during modern day flicks. Kill Bill has a few of these scenes so you can imagine that my experience watching this one, both in the theater and again on Blu-Ray, was pure pleasure.

I didn’t waiver for a moment as to whether or not this woman was justified in her plan to eliminate the list of people who had massacred her wedding party four years prior. I think that’s because I’m pretty sure they all have it coming for one reason or another, so why not at the hands of a “tall drink of water” in a striking yellow riding suit?

I have always admired Tarantino and I think part of why is that while I’ve watched each and every movie he’s written or directed I have had an overwhelming feeling that “this movie is soooooo good, it makes me glad to be a movie lover.” It might sound corny, but oh well, that’s the price one pays for being passionate about something. I don’t always like the over the top violence that he doles out, in fact I think most of it is completely unnecessary, but the whole experience of watching his films is just too good to be picky about the few things I might not like.

Kill Bill Vol 1 has a fantastic anime sequence, standard QT ultra violence, some creepy themes (coma patients beware!!!), and a very well cast Lucy Lu, it’s a full on assault of your senses from start to finish. Either you will love it or hate it. There will be no, “oh, it was alright I suppose” floating around in your mind or coming out of your mouth. I predict that you will go crazy for Lu’s brilliantly sublime performance, or the cool story, or the stylish camera work, or the groovy music, or at least the obviously watchable Uma. If you find no value in any of these things even at face value as exciting elements to jazz up the flood of movies that come out every year, best of luck on your search for a powerful and innovative movie these days.

Video & Audio By Ascully: 9/10
Fans of Tarantino’s epic Kill Bill series have been waiting for what seems like forever for an HD version of both movies. Disney has finally given us exactly that, a HD version of Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2, but not much more. The fabled “Whole Bloody Affair” version which combines a fully uncut Volume 1 (end fight scene in color) and Volume 2 stuck together is still not available anywhere in the world. Rumor has it that the Weinstein’s own that particular cut.  Most fans are holding out for it despite the fact that it has never being announced officially.

So, how does Disney’s Blu-Ray release of Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2 hold up? They are excellent. The DVD’s from a few years ago were pretty poor with a bad case of edge enhancement and some muddy blacks. This isn’t the case with the HD version. It looks pristine as though the movie was filmed yesterday on the highest quality camera you can imagine. Audio is upgraded using a uncompressed PCM soundtrack that has to be heard to be believed.

Overall both volumes of Kill Bill on Blu-Ray disc are a sound investment, unless of course you are holding out for that fabled super duper version that, in my opinion, will never arrive.

Value: 8/10
I want more extras, I want more extras, and I want more extras for $30.00. I don’t care if it’s a Tarantino movie. I don’t care if it’s a special edition (which it is not). I don’t even care if it’s the ONLY edition they ever make, $30.00 for a Blu-Ray Disc that only has one featurette and some trailers just barely worth it. Come on people, don’t bleed us dry just because you tag a fancy-pants big time director’s name on the box.

Overall Score 8/10