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Before you consider buying Miramax’s DVD of Kill Bill Vol. 1., consider this: within a year there will likely be a definitive box set with both volumes of the film and many more extra features.

Volume 1

A roomful of Yakuza are no match for Uma in Tarantino territory
A roomful of Yakuza are no match for Uma in Tarantino territory
A timely rental, but an unwise investment with its replacement due within the year
A timely rental, but an unwise investment with its replacement due within the year

While the rest of Hollywood was trying to catch up with Hong Kong, Quentin Tarantino was studying Japanese pulp fiction.

Uma Thurman plays The Bride, AKA Black Momba. She was once part of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, led by the off-screen Bill (David Carradine). When Momba tried to leave the vipers to get married, the vipers turned on her. They wiped out her entire wedding party and left her for dead.

But she survived, and four years later, after waking from her coma, she sets out for revenge. There’s nothing particularly original about the plot. Revenge has been done to death, and beautiful but deadly assassins have been in movies since before Sean Connery played James Bond. But that’s not to say that the storytelling is bland.

Tarantino plays with time and style. Sequences are presented out of order, in flashback and flash-forward. One sequence is presented as a ten-minute anime cartoon with very little dialogue. He chooses a dark, subdued palette, offset by the bright colors of the vengeful Bride. The coup de grace is the music, borrowed from Ennio Morricone, Zamfir, and RZA of Wu-Tang.

Picture and Sound

As expected, picture quality on the DVD is superb. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The music plays an important role in the film’s overall style. Miramax’s DVD presents it well. The soundtrack, which sounds great in all the right places, is encoded in Dolby Digital Surround, and you can switch to DTS if your system allows.

DVD Extras

The extra features on Vol. 1 remind you that another, more densely packed DVD release is sure to come once Vol. 2 is released. Most notably missing is any sort of audio commentary track. Something from Tarantino or his cinematographer would really be interesting. Another commentary track on the music could prove insightful as well.

Instead, Vol. 1 offers only a documentary made for Miramax Television. Tarantino, animated and talkative, goes on-camera to tell a few stories about the movie’s inspiration. The piece is edited with footage from the movie and from the set. But at only 30 minutes, it may leave fans wanting more.

The only other extra features are 2 songs performed by the 5, 6, 7, 8’s on the Kill Bill soundstage, and a series of trailers for Tarantino movies.

The Vol. 1 DVD makes a great rental before you go see Vol. 2 in theaters. It may not be the wisest investment to purchase, however, as it’s only likely to hold its value until its successor is released, probably within the year.