Two of her Death List Five lie dead as Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) returns to the USA to kill Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle (Daryl Hannah) and Bill (David Carradine) himself. Shocking revelations lie in store however.
This is a controversial statement indeed, but I see this as the film which started the quality of Quentin Tarantino's films flounder, as this film was followed by Death Proof (2007) and Inglourious Basterds (2009). The screenplay is where this film falls short of the quality of previous Tarantino films. It is intense and it is mature, as Beatrix works to find and kill her former allies, while reflecting on her training from years ago. However, it is a rather crammed screenplay, which rushes through some scenes unnecessarily, while making others feel a little dragged out, and even giving some scenes far too abrupt endings, such as Beatrix's fight with Elle.
Regardless of its flaws, however, it is a regularly exhilarating film. The film is beautifully choreographed in the martial arts scenes, the grace and perfection of which is captured wonderfully by Cinematographer Robert Richardson, as the fights unveil on screen. The film also features beautiful mise-en-scene and lighting, a strong example being one where Beatrix is buried alive and tries to break free. The dimly lit space creates a real sense of claustrophobia, heightened by Thurman's strong performance, which works with the mise-en-scene in the escape to create a real feeling of a woman determined. Thurman's performance is strong and determined throughout, and she is well supported, most especially by Carradine, who brings an excellent amount of wisdom and authority to the character, but also successfully creates the character's kind, sympathetic and caring side.
It is by no means great film making, but it is gritty, and sometimes deep, regardless of the flaws in the screenplay. It is just a shame this was the first film by Tarantino to not be worth four stars or more, a rating no Tarantino film has achieved since.
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, Sonny Chiba, Julie Dreyfus, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Perla Haney-Jardine, Chris Nelson, Larry Bishop.
Golden Globe nominations: Best Actress - Drama (Uma Thurman), Best Supporting Actor (David Carradine).