Kill Bill:Volume 1 Synopsis

Like other Tarantino films, the sections of Kill Bill (called "chapters" in the film) are not presented in chronological order (see the Structure section below). A pre-credits, black-and-white sequence introduces us to The Bride (Thurman), a one-time member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad commanded by the Bride's former lover, the violent and mysterious Bill (Carradine). The pregnant Bride is bloody and bruised, having just been beaten by her former colleagues, presumably at Bill's behest. The Bride is heard telling Bill, “It’s your baby,” but as the words leave her mouth, Bill shoots her in the head.

Four-and-a-half years later, we see The Bride, alive and well, stopping at the suburban California home of Copperhead (Fox), one of the members of the Deadly Vipers. Copperhead answers the door, and a vicious knifefight ensues, demolishing most of the living room. There is a dark-humored moment when Copperhead’s daughter comes home from school, and the two women hide their knives and try to pretend that nothing happened. Over coffee, The Bride and Copperhead plan a moonlight battle later that evening, but Copperhead instead tries to shoot The Bride. She misses, and the Bride is able to impale her with her knife, sadly witnessed by the young girl. The chapter ends with The Bride looking at a notepad, featuring the names of the five assassins on her hit-list and crossing off Copperhead’s. We see that it is not the first name to be crossed off, clueing us in to the out-of-sequence nature of the movie.

The second chapter is a flashback to a time beginning with the wedding assassination. A local lawman (Parks) surveying the crime scene, at which the entire wedding party has been massacred, discovers that The Bride is not dead. In a coma at a local hospital, she is confronted by fellow Deadly Viper Elle Driver (Hannah), who has replaced her as Bill's lover. Elle plans to kill her in her sleep, but at the last minute Bill calls and tells her to abort the mission, saying that killing her in such a state would look bad for them.

The story jumps ahead four years, as the Bride awakens with her memory of the assassination attempt intact. She bursts into tears at the realization that her unborn child is no longer in her womb. At that moment, two men enter the room and the Bride fakes unconsciousness. Buck, a hospital orderly, has been charging visitors to have sex with the comatose Bride for four years now. She kills Buck and his would-be customer before stealing the keys to Buck's pick-up, dubbed the Pussy Wagon.

From the back of Buck's truck, where the Bride works to revive her atrophied legs, she narrates the story of another Deadly Viper member, O-Ren Ishii (Liu). This story is presented as a long and bloody anime sequence. As a young child, both of O-Ren's parents were killed by Japanese Yakuza, an act witnessed by the hiding child. Carrying her anger onward, she later took revenge on the Yakuza head before becoming a very successful assassin herself.

The story returns to the "present", as the Bride regains use of her legs and boards a plane to Okinawa. There she searches for Hattori Hanzo (Chiba), a famous maker of swords. Hanzo has taken an oath to never make another sword, but is persuaded by the justice of her cause. It takes him a month to make her the best sword ever crafted, which she takes to Tokyo for her showdown with O-Ren.

In the years since the assassination, O-Ren has become the first female leader of the Yakuza council, and her sensitivity toward her Chinese American heritage is demonstrated when she decapitates a man for mocking her nationality. The Bride gets into O-Ren’s current hangout, a club known as the House of Blue Leaves. She cuts off the arm of Sophie, O-Ren’s lawyer, and then proceeds to take on O-Ren’s henchmen, including Oren's personal bodyguard, the seventeen year-old, spike-and-ball-wielding girl named GoGo Yubari. Dispatching these subordinates, she is confronted by the bulk of O-Ren's army, the "Crazy 88." They all suffer grisly death or mutilation at the edge of her sword in a sequence of sustained, graphic violence. The Blue Leaves sequence employs a variety of visual styles including color, black-and-white, a kabuki-like blue-background silhouette, and an overexposed, flashing black-and-white style which seems to suggest an old martial arts movie. The accompanying soundtrack is an eclectic collection of musical styles.

At the end of this frenetic sequence The Bride, looking for O-Ren, slides open a door which unexpectedly reveals the quiet of a snowy, Japanese garden in back of the club. After a dramatic swordfight, the Bride succeeds in scalping O-Ren with her blade, killing her. She deposits the dismembered Sophie at a hospital after extracting information from her. Sophie is patched up and later returns to Bill. In the Volume's last line, Bill asks Sophie if the Bride knows that her daughter is alive, a fact of which the audience has thus far been kept unaware.


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