Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Blu-ray) (2003)

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Released 1-Sep-2011

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Featurette-Making Of
Music Highlights-5,6,7,8's Perform 'I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield' & 'I'm Blue'
Trailer-6 trailers for Tarantino films
Rating Rated R
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 110:43
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Uma Thurman
David Carradine
Lucy Liu
Daryl Hannah
Vivica A. Fox
Michael Madsen
Michael Parks
Sonny Chiba
Chiaki Kuriyama
Julie Dreyfus
Chia Hui Liu
Jun Kunimura
Kazuki Kitamura
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $19.95 Music Lily Chou Chou
RZA
D.A. Young


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Linear PCM 48/16 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Italian dts 5.1
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish dts 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
German dts 5.1
German Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian
Spanish
German
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

“Revenge is never a straight line”

     The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad are a team of female assassins controlled by a shadowy man named Bill (David Carradine). When the deadliest assassin of the group, code name Black Mamba (Uma Thurman), decides that she wants to leave the group, get married and settle down, Bill has other ideas; the Vipers gatecrash the wedding rehearsal and massacre the pregnant bride, the groom and guests. But they make one mistake: they fail to kill Black Mamba (now known as The Bride). She survives in a coma and when she awakes four years later she has only one thought: to take revenge on the Vipers and to Kill Bill. The first Viper on her list is O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) who has used her skills to take control of the Tokyo yakuza underworld. First obtaining a samurai sword from master sword maker Hattori Hanzo (Sonny Chiba) in Okinawa, The Bride travels to Tokyo to confront O-Ren and her Crazy 88 group members in a wild and bloody showdown in the House of Blue Leaves.

     In true Tarantino style, Kill Bill Vol.1 is not told sequentially, but jumps around, with no back-story, starting to tell the tale of how The Bride works her way up the Viper chain to Bill. Kill Bill Vol.1 is Tarantino's homage to the Hong Kong kung fu films of the 70s and 80s, and indeed the film starts with the famous Shaw Brothers title screen and fanfare! However, in truth the latter half of the film is closer to the Japanese chambara films from the 1960s onwards, in which a lone swordsman dispatches hordes of sword waving opponents: in the House of Blue Leaves climax, the figure of The Bride could be replaced by any number of characters played by Toshiro Mifune (such as his samurai in Kihachi Okamoto’s Samurai Assassin (1964)) without feeling out of place. Tarantino also casts as sword maker Hanzo Japanese action screen icon from the 1970s Sonny Chiba; in a series of The Streetfighter films starting in 1974, Chiba established a persona not unlike Clint Eastwood in the Dollars trilogy – that of an amoral loner who says little but lets his fists / guns do the talking. But of course Tarantino puts his own stamp on proceedings and the result in Kill Bill is a revenge film that is a delicious blend of kung fu, samurai chambara and spaghetti western.

     In Kill Bill Vol.1 Tarantino uses a number of camera tricks, plus an anime section, but they are never overdone: in fact the action sequences are quite traditional with wire work and middle perspective takes showing the fighters in action rather than the quick, jolting takes more common in recent films. The acting and dialogue are also first class, the set pieces spectacular, including the final fight between The Bride and O-Ren in the snow covered courtyard. Another highlight of the film is the musical choices, a gloriously effective mish-mash of styles and genres. While The RZA provides the original music, it is the popular music additions that resonate, either enhancing, or counterbalancing, the action on screen. From the opening sequence to the sound of Nancy Sinatra singing Bang, Bang, the score is a treat, also drawing on the likes of Quincy Jones, Isaac Hayes, Japanese all girl group 5, 6, 7, 8’s, Mexican horns and Spaghetti Western riffs, including a contribution from the master himself, Ennio Morricone.

     Kill Bill Vol.1 is frenetic, violent and bloody, with limbs and heads hacked off and showers of blood. Yet the action sequences are never played as gratuitous violence and in fact are quite traditional chambara fare. The acting and dialogue are first class, the set pieces spectacular, the musical score fabulous. Kill Bill may be a homage to a bygone era of film, but it shows Tarantino in full control of his material and is a wonderful film, full of colour, action and music.

     The previous DVD of Kill Bill Vol. 1 was reviewed on this site here. There are no new extras on the Blu-ray but the film does look and sound glorious in the HD format. For the price the Blu-ray can be found, I’d upgrade. If you don’t have Kill Bill the Blu-ray is the way to go.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Kill Bill Vol.1 is presented in a ratio of 2.40:1, close to the original ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p. It looks wonderful.

     This is a film where the colours are vibrant without being garish and positively leap off the screen. The print is sharp, detail is superb, skin tones natural, contrast and brightness consistent. Blacks are absolutely solid, shown to great effect in the black and white action sequence, shadow detail excellent. I think I noticed one or two tiny marks, but otherwise artefacts were absent.

     Subtitles are available in English, English HI, Italian, Spanish and German. The English subtitles were in a smallish white font that is occasionally difficult to read against light backgrounds. This is relevant for non-Japanese speakers as quite a lot of the film is in Japanese. The main issue I have with the subtitles is that they do not come on automatically when Japanese dialogue is spoken if you select “no subtitles” from the set up menu. If you select English or English HI subtitles, then all dialogue, English and Japanese, is subtitled which I find distracting. The subtitles did follow the dialogue closely and I did not notice any grammatical or spelling errors.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

     Audio choices are English Uncompressed PCM 5.1 or Dolby Digital 5.1, plus Italian, Spanish and German DTS 5.1 and Dolby Digital 5.1. I listened to the English uncompressed track and sampled the Dolby Digital.

     Dialogue, except for the scene in the body strewn wedding chapel where Michael Parks speaks indistinctly, was clean, centred and easy to understand. The surrounds were fully utilised for effects, panning effects during the action sequences, and music. The footsteps of Bill across the chapel floor, or the breaking glass in an early action sequence, were crisp. Swords clanged in a satisfactory manner, making for an enveloping aural experience. The sub woofer was not overdone but provided effective support when needed.

    The Dolby Digital was good, but lacks the sharpness and resonance of the uncompressed audio track.

     The original score by The RZA (who also provided the score in Jim Jarmusch’s excellent Ghost Dog (1999) is good but it is the added music by the likes of Nancy Sinatra, Quincy Jones Isaac Hayes, Luis Bacalov and Ennio Morricone that provides wonderful support for the visuals. It comes over nicely in the mix.

     Lip Synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

     All extras are SD and are repeated from the previous DVD release.

The Making of Kill Bill (22:06)

     Made in 2003, this covers the ideas behind the film, the genesis of the script, character, casting, locations and music. Some behind the scenes footage, plus interview footage with Quentin Tarantino, producer Lawrence Bender, composer The RZA and actors Uma Thurman, Julie Dreyfus, Vivica A. Fox, Lucy Lui and Daryl Hannah.

Music Clips: “5, 6, 7, 8’s” (5:52)

     Performances of “I Walk Like Jayne Mansfield” and “I’m Blue” by the Japanese all girl band featured in the film.

Tarantino Trailers

    Included are:

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     This Blu-ray is identical to the US Region 0 Blu-ray except for language and subtitle options. We still, however, have none of the copious extras that were available on the Japanese DVD – see the review link above for details.

Summary

     Kill Bill Vol.1 is Quentin Tarantino’s homage to a bygone era of kung fu and chambara films. Tarantino is in full control of his material and Kill Bill Vol.1 is a fascinating and entertaining film, full of colour, action and fabulous music.

     The video and audio are wonderful. There are no new extras on the Blu-ray but the film does look and sound glorious in the HD format. For the price the Blu-ray can be found, I’d upgrade. If you don’t have Kill Bill, the Blu-ray is the way to go.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S350, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
No offense but I'd wait... - Anonymous REPLY POSTED
Re 'No Offence'... - Anonymous
The Whole Bloody Affair - Anonymous
Japanese and International version is performance art in action - Tom Tuttle