Warning: Spoiler Alert
The plot is simple – a bride is attacked on her wedding day by four trained assassins, the Deadly Vipers Assassination Squad. She sets out to kill every one of these assassins involved – Vernita green, Elle driver, and O-Ren Ishi, and, of course, Bill.
The film is violent, gory and disturbing. but it’s a feminist film, and has been declared as one of the best movies in cinematic history.
First, there is an overwhelming majority of women as main characters who have strong roles – the Bride, the women in the assassination squad, O-Ren Ishii’s right-hand women, even the 5, 6, 7, 8 band at the dance club in Japan. This is rare and novel in the film industry, especially considering that Tarantino’s other films, Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs are mainly male-dominated.
Near the beginning of the film, the bride wakes up from a coma after being shot in the head by Bill himself. After realizing that she is no longer carrying the child she had been pregnant with four years before, she breaks down in tears in the hospital. A few seconds later, she hears footsteps and pretends to be unconscious, then hears that one of the nurses there has been prostituting her to clients. at this point of the story, it’d be typical of the viewer to feel sympathy for the bride – and we do – but not in the way that we usually feel sympathy for female characters that have had traumatizing experiences. here is a woman who has realized three very unfortunate pieces of information at once: that she just woke up from a coma, that she lost her baby, and that she has been repeatedly raped while she was unconscious. We have empathy, but we realize that the bride doesn’t need it, because only a minute later, we see that she has killed, or seriously maimed, the man who was going to rape her next and has pulled herself over to the door, awaiting the nurse’s return, when she brutally slams the door into his head multiple times and demands, “WHERE’S BILL?”
The aforementioned scene happens all in less than eight minutes. in a mere eight minutes, we see the bride at her weakest point, rise to an unimaginable level of strength, physically, emotionally and psychologically. Clearly, the bride is a character that feminism needs.
A violent, blood-soaked, animated scene illustrating the murder of O-Ren Ishii’s family and her subsequent revenge shows the extent of her psychological and emotional strength.
Later on, we see O-Ren, at the House of Blue Leaves with her little posse, notably Sofie Fatale and Gogo Yubari, who are the two women flanking either sides of her. We see that despite being secondary characters and having short amounts of screen-time, Gogo and Sophie have as much depth as the bride. Sophie is O-Ren’s “best friend, lawyer, and second-in-command.” Gogo is a schoolgirl, and at only 17 years of age, is one of O-ren’s top assassins, and as the Bride states, “what she lacks in age, she makes up for in madness”, followed by a scene where Gogo kills a businessman in a Tokyo Bar after she offers herself to him. At first glance, Gogo looks meek and harmless in her schoolgirl uniform, giving off no impression that she is able to easily take your head off. But, she carries a meteor hammer with her at all times and giggles at the suggestion of backing down from a fight with the Bride, whose victims she has witnessed being murdered brutally and swiftly. It’s that she is the most skilled member of O-Ren’s gang of bodyguards, (thereby earning herself respect and honor among everyone else), evident in the fact that she was the last one to fight the Bride before the remaining members of the Crazy 88’s were summoned.
The big question is, is this scene realistic? There are eighty or so men fighting one woman. They all have incredible swordsmanship skills, yet the Bride manages to kill or wound all of them, AND proceed to kill the woman who these men were designated to defend. In the realm of possibility, of course it’s possible. Due to the excellent cinematography, it is made to look extremely realistic, and admit it: you wanted it to be realistic. But what is even more realistic is her determination; she is willing to fight to her death right in front of O-Ren if she has to. She isn’t afraid. She isn’t surrendering. She isn’t going to back down now that she’s come this far (all the way to Tokyo, may I remind you), regardless of how much pain she has already experienced, because her vengeance and ambition is too strong; and it makes her that much more of a threat to O-Ren.
Honor and respect are important to these women. Upon ceasing her duel with Vernita Green, the Bride says, “I won’t murder you in front of your child.” Though being fair, in her words, would include killing off Vernita’s husband and daughter, the Bride only aims to kill Vernita and is considerate of who she does not intend to witness Vernita’s death. She says, “It’s mercy, compassion, and forgiveness I lack, not rationality.” Even after killing Vernita, she tells Nikki that she understands if she wants to seek revenge on the Bride.
Elle Driver, who despises the Bride, had a high level of respect for her. She expresses regret that the Bride, the “greatest warrior [she] knows,” was supposedly killed by Budd.
Even the woman who was sent to murder the Bride spared her when she confirmed that the Bride was pregnant. The Bride could’ve easily shot her while she tried to interpret the results of the pregnancy test, but she didn’t. Instead, both women left each other alone.
Despite its release over a decade ago, Kill Bill Volume 1 still remains one of the greatest stylistic movies in film history.