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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Tarantino's epic comeback

by Keily Oakes
BBC News Online entertainment staff

Fans of Quentin Tarantino have had to wait nearly six years for the cult director to release Kill Bill - and now they will have to be even more patient as the film is being released in two parts.

Although this will only be Tarantino's fourth full-length feature film, such is the high regard held for him by film fans and critics that it has become one of the most eagerly-awaited film of the year, if not the past six.

Uma Thurman
Uma Thurman is the star of Kill Bill
His 1997 movie Jackie Brown may not have received the warmest of critical receptions but his debut Reservoir Dogs and the follow-up Pulp Fiction have become cult classics.

According to early reviews, Kill Bill is set to be Tarantino's most violent offering, and this from the man who gave the world the X-rated Reservoir Dogs, which featured the now-famous ear-chopping scene.

But Kill Bill looks like completely surpassing that film's gore barrier and body count.

Uma Thurman is the star of Kill Bill, with Tarantino writing the script with his Pulp Fiction leading lady in mind, making it much less of an ensemble film than his other movies.

Thurman plays a character known as the Bride, a pregnant assassin who is shot by her boss Bill played by David Carradine, on her wedding day, and left for dead.

Resurging career

But after five years in a coma she wakes up and immediately seeks revenge against her assassin peers, and of course Bill, whom she saves for last.

Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino feels the weight of expectation of Kill Bill
Stars playing fellow assassins include Daryl Hannah, Vivia A Fox, Lucy Liu and Michael Madsen, who played the psychopathic Mr Blonde in Reservoir Dogs.

Kill Bill is set to mark the resurgence of the career of veteran actor David Carradine, who made his name in the Kung Fu TV series.

But Carradine's part of gang leader Bill will not come to the fore until the release of Kill Bill Volume II, commanding only minimal screen time in the first movie.

The 40-year-old Tarantino has been a huge fan of martial arts movies for many years, and for Kill Bill he mixes the genre with many other film types including Western and Japanese anime.

But of course such a celebrated director commands budgets that dwarf those of the usual martial arts flicks, meaning big name actors could be brought in to add glamour and a more Western flavour.

Instead of paying just a passing homage to the genre, Tarantino has brought in some of martial arts movies biggest names.

Japan's Sonny Chiba, who also stars in the film, and Hong Kong's Yuen Woo Ping were hired to choreograph the complicated fight scenes, bringing their experience of kung fu and samurai fighting to the epic, with one samurai sword fight coming in at at least 20 minutes long.

Cynics

Ping was the fight director of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, while Chiba worked on the Street Fighter franchise.

Tarantino has often been a one for adding in touches especially for like-minded film fanatics to pick up on.

Lucy Liu
Lucy Liu plays a fellow assassin
The name of Pai Mei, played by Chia Hui Liu also know as Gordon, is lifted from the character in several of the Shaw Brothers movies, the prolific Hong Kong studio.

Kill Bill was originally planned to run as one movie, but after coming in at more than three hours long, Tarantino and Miramax studio decided to chop it in half, doubting the capacity of cinema-goers to sit through such an epic.

Some critics have called it a cynical attempt to cash in on the movie as audiences will have to pay again to find out the ending when Kill Bill Volume II is released in February 2004.

Tarantino himself says that it was a natural progression after Miramax chief Harvey Weinstein said he did not want to cut out any of the scenes and pitched it as a two-parter.

Despite giving off an air of "I don't care what Hollywood thinks of me", the auteur Tarantino knows how much expectation there is surrounding the film.

"That's why I took so long to make it, cause I wanted to surpass the expectations," he told Fangoria magazine.

" I know people have been waiting a long time, and I appreciate them waiting a long time so I really wanted to give them one that was worth the wait."

Kill Bill is released nationwide in the UK on 17 October.




SEE ALSO:
Tarantino 'books martial arts giants'
09 Oct 01  |  Entertainment
Tarantino film split in half
17 Jul 03  |  Entertainment


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