KILL BILL VOLUME 1Odeon George StreetFriday 17 – Thursday 23 October Quentin Tarantino, the undisputed “daddy” of retro-cool, has made a blistering return to form after a lengthy absence. Kill Bill, his fourth outing as director, sees Uma Thurman play The Bride, an expert female assassin who, upon awaking from a four-year coma, sets out to avenge herself of the wedding-day massacre that she barely survived. To this effect, she resolves to cripple, maim, disfigure, brutalise and generally kill all five members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, (DIVAS, for short) at the head of which presides the eponymous Bill, played by David Carradine of Sixties Kung Fu fame. Similar to The Bride, Tarantino himself seems to have been in hibernation for a few years, dithering intermittently with second-world war epics and family comedies. So, now that he seems back on track, what can you expect from Mr T’s latest adrenaline-fuelled offering? Kill Bill is what I would term a “movie-movie” replete with references to films of the director’s youth, and too lavish in its cartoonish excesses to be taken seriously. The story is divided into five chapters, giving Tarantino free rein to indulge his penchant for achronological exposition. He effortlessly blends multiple genres, from Hong Kong action flicks to spaghetti westerns, via blaxploitation films of the Seventies, in a hip seamless style with a lethal injection of violence. Those familiar with Peter Jackson’s pre-Lord Of The Rings efforts, such as Braindead, will feel instantly at home with the over-the-top gore and splatter. For the more sensitive types, the majority of the climactic showdown (in which The Bride smoothly dispatches 88 yakuza henchmen) is shot in black-and-white, to lessen the shock. Undoubtedly a masterpiece, Kill Bill is not without flaws and some mild criticism is certainly in order. To begin with, the achingly hip and oft-quoted dialogue from Tarantino’s previous features is all but absent in Kill Bill. This vital missing ingredient leaves the characterisation grossly underdeveloped, and the plot, somewhat on the thin side. Furthermore, the martial arts scenes are not quite as spectacular as you might expect, presumably owing to the director’s inexperience in this field. The controversial decision to chop the film in two might also be seen as irksome and unnecessary, although the second volume (out in February) could potentially make up for aforementioned quibbles. And quibbles they are: as a film which, from the outset, devotes itself unashamedly to style over substance, it scores top marks. There is also a considerable dose of humour (albeit mostly jet black); a particular scene in a Japanese sushi bar had me in stitches. Mention must also go to Ms. Thurman, who performs the role of an browbeaten killer on a vengeful suicide mission with steely resolve. Ultimately, a movie with an entire sequence in Japanese anime, samurai swords and a soundtrack that is guaranteed to stay in your CD player longer even than that of Pulp Fiction, cannot fail to impress. Go tonight for a bloody, but brilliant kitsch thrill.ARCHIVE: 1st Week MT2003