You have conceptualized a theme with much pain. It has got anything and everything ranging from the riveting moments of spaghetti western movies to that of first class South East Asian martial art movies. Something like having Bruce Lee and Clint Eastwood sharing same screen space. Here you made the canvass of movie to be wider enough! No wonder, the conceptualist cum director cannot imagine anything but making a movie which is four hours long.
Four hours – You might be kidding! It’s not Cecil B Demille’s “The Ten Commandments” which is 220 minutes long which people might revere not only due to cinematic appeal but also due to religious reason. Here you have a unique man behind the camera – “Quentin Tarantino”. Oh yes, the name speak for himself. Be ready to experience blood bath for four hours but yet rolling your eyeball and stand on your toes. But dare not wink; you might miss a million dollar scene. Here goes the saga of one of the most unique movies ever made in Hollywood. A movie with two volumes in a book format! Crazy –eh! Oh well, who don’t want to experience the madness!
The very name Tarantino is associated with the myriad images of any possible form of violence, blood bath etc. Well, here also you find the lady gasping for breath, soaked in blood. Well, hold your breath and do not let your spirit down. You need to survive initial thirty minutes. Now, that you became a reader who got the freedom to turn the pages (in movie, the title of each chapter is being displayed) and each moment reserve a larger surprise which is going to hit you.
In a nutshell, the movie is all about a Bride who was almost killed during the wedding rehearsal by her master / mentor / lover who spent a good part of his life to train her to be the best fighter. Master was successful enough to equip her not to succumb under extreme pressure and she came back to life like a phoenix. What is that which is left for someone who lost anything and everything? For the bride, it was “vengeance”. She is ripped off from personal fortunes and what is left is to annihilate anything and everything that snatched her fortunes. Here start the voyage of a bloody battle. You are going to witness one of the most aesthetically designed violence and bloodbath in the history of celluloid. The movie slips back to color, black and white and cartoon format with definite purpose. Not even a single moment, you are going to be bored.
The movie holds some records in its presentation. The four hours movie is presented in two volumes with two release dates to address this issue. It was a bold attempt which was criticized a lot because many movie lovers considered it as a gimmick by “Miramax Films” to charge two tickets per movie. Yes, the first volume ends where the bride accomplished only a portion of her targets. You are yet to see the face of her master who changed the destiny who is holding a trump card. Bride’s daughter is still alive! How is she going to deal with it?
In the second volume, actions and thrills are limited compared to that of volume 1. It is a sequel and prequel to first volume where you are invited to the plot of the story with the motive and relation of main characters. The man behind the title of the movie Bill (David Carradine) and Bride (Uma Thurman) are having only a few moments together in screen but yet their complex relation of love and hatred was depicted through the numerous strings of tales. Personally, I use certain clippings from Volume II in my training module as an illustration of “learn it hard way” “negotiating in tough times” etc. Toward the end, the story becomes predictable but yet you love to watch till the end.
While thinking loud about the movie and my affinity toward the same, I have arrived at a curious observation. It is not a movie with thick plot and substance. It is just a brilliant exercise of genre sampling. Might be, Tarantino got a secret mission to revive Yakuza genre movies (popularly known as Japanese Mafia). This was not a well established and well accepted genre in Hollywood and provided a niche for a clever man like Tarantino. Re inventing in Hollywood is a task but in Japan itself it was successfully re invented as “beaty” by Takeshi. But again, Tarantino is the victim of casting his favorite actress Uma Thurman where as he got many better choices. Even after getting such a big break, who consider Uma as an action heroine? Also, “study in scarlet” is something on which Tarantino always love to experiment. The fountains of blood gushing from cutlass wounds in colour and black and white was a brilliant attempt. The film was a huge success but again the genre is likely to be tapped by Tarantino himself.
All in all, this movie sits in a different genre, different from the worksof john Woo, Itano, Kaige, Yimou as well as other practitioners of Yakuza stories. But, it is going to be a different experience. Those who really do not keep water tight compartments while choosing to watch a movie, this is going to be a delight. My sincere submission – never stick on “strong likes” and “strong dislikes” while enjoying any work or art. You might miss a chance to getting yourself introduced to something which you may like!