I am not a Tarantino hater. On the contrary, I’m a great admirer of his storytelling skills. But like many great filmmakers who are not named Stanley Kubrick (who only got better as he got older), Tarantino does it better than most directors, but bafflingly can sometimes also do it worse than most directors.
When I first saw “Kill Bill, Vol.1,” I thought it was amazing. Tarantino’s seven year absence was felt in the movie world. But each subsequent viewing got worse (unlike “Jackie Brown,” “Pulp Fiction” or “Inglorious Basterds” or however you spell that). While there are many great scenes in “KB1,” the breaches of reality actually outweigh the experience.
I can let go of moments like Uma Thurman carrying the sword on the plane, or Lucy Lui being the head of the mob, or even Vivica Fox not preparing for Uma Thurman’s visit, after Uma massacred Lucy and her entire gang. I’m okay with that. Tarantino toys with various genres. The anime flashback is brilliant, of course. His music choices are masterful. The very opening grabs the audience by the throat. What I am not okay with is one pivotal point the movie that could have elevated the story into something great. Instead, reality is breached to such an extent, I consider “KB1” one of Tarantino’s weaker efforts.
There are two great action scenes in “KB1.” The first is the fight scene with Vivica, the second is the fight scene with “Go Go,” perhaps Tarantino’s greatest bad guy (played by Chiaki Kuriyama from “Battle Royale,” aka the movie “The Hunger Games”).
My rule of thumb about a well created protagonist is if I’m scared for the protagonist. I realize I was only scared for Uma in the opening with Vivica and the scene with Go Go. But, I was much more scared for her with Go Go. The ball and chain weapon and giggling school girl was genre bending and Tarantino at his best. Which is why I hated to see her die (and die so cleverly). It’s as similar feeling I had when Darth Maul was killed in “The Phantom Menace” or how Bane perished in “The Dark Knight Rises.” Great bad guys should die just before the movie ends, and they should die well, because they represent the crescendo, the highest peak of the story, and thus, the highest peak of the protagonist’s challenge. The Terminator dies at the end of the Terminator. The Shark dies at the end of Jaws. The brace wearing giant also named “Jaws” in the Roger Moore 007 films lasted three films. Apollo Creed lasted four Rockies. And what is Inspector Clousseau without his arch nemesis, Kato?
Which brings me to the breach of Go Go. Clearly, the only time in that restaurant Uma Thurman faced any kind of challenge. Every other time, I was so certain Uma would wind up on top, I found myself with a very unusual feeling in a Tarantino movie? Boredom. So The Bride sliced and diced 50 or 100 guys, followed by that yawn-fest sword fight with Lucy Lui. She might as well have been playing racquet ball.
Here’s my breach. If Go Go was so powerful and deadly (which clearly she was), why didn’t Lucy Lui send all her body guards at Uma all at once, including Go Go? Why did she send two attackers or one attacker at a time? Makes no sense. Maybe if like in Bruce Lee’s “The Game of Death” (which Tarantino borrowed Uma’s track suit from) each character had a special skill, I would get it. But they didn’t. They just howled, waved their sword, and got killed (usually, pretty instantly). Go Go was the only character with a special skill, and the only person you thought COULD KILL The Bride (in Volume 1 or 2, including Bill, who’s death was even more anticlimactic). I would have loved to see Go Go continue to chase Uma and even remain alive… throughout both films.
In short, if The Bride came after me and I had Lucy’s team, I would have sent my army, including Go Go, to destroy her. This Breach of Reality represents Tarantino at his best and worse simultaneously.
Written by: Norith Soth