Can Kill Bill Save Tarantino?; Quentin Tarantino Shook the Film World with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Then His Star Faded. Now, as These Exclusive Pictures from His New Film Reveal, He's Back with a Vengeance

By Wiltshire, Jo | The Mail on Sunday (London, England), March 9, 2003 | Go to article overview

Can Kill Bill Save Tarantino?; Quentin Tarantino Shook the Film World with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Then His Star Faded. Now, as These Exclusive Pictures from His New Film Reveal, He's Back with a Vengeance


Wiltshire, Jo, The Mail on Sunday (London, England)


Byline: JO WILTSHIRE

The bad boy of cinema is back. Director Quentin Tarantino, whose last film, 1997's Jackie Brown, received only a lukewarm reception, is about to execute what is being described as a long-awaited and more typically bloodthirsty return to form with Kill Bill. It is a kung fu-filled tale of revenge and murder starring his favourite leading lady, Uma Thurman.

Kill Bill, which is to be released in October, comes from an idea Tarantino had while directing his 1994 smash hit Pulp Fiction, and was written specifically for Thurman - he even delayed filming when she became pregnant with her second child. She plays The Bride, a Japanese-speaking female assassin whose decision to 'go straight' leads to a bloody massacre at her wedding, on the orders of her former employer, Bill.

Waking after five years in a coma, with a bullet lodged in her brain, she plots a bloody revenge on her former co-assassins and, finally, Bill himself, who is played by Seventies television star David Carradine. Daryl Hannah and Charlie's Angels star Lucy Liu also feature, and the ubiquitous Samuel L Jackson has a cameo role as an organ player.

There is a lot riding on this film. Tarantino needs a high-calibre, box-office-busting hit. When he exploded into the public consciousness in 1992 with Reservoir Dogs, he was hailed as a master of independent cinema, a visceral and exciting new talent. Who can forget Michael Madsen's Mr Blonde, grooving to Stuck in the Middle with You while readying his barbershop razor to sever the right ear from his captive cop?

Pulp Fiction, released two years later, confirmed his reputation, resurrecting John Travolta's career in the process. Tarantino, the high-school dropout who used to work in a video store and cut his teeth by writing Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, was a force to be reckoned with.

Then, in 1995, he contributed to the poorly received Four Rooms, and in 1996 he co-wrote, appeared in and was executive producer on the kitsch vampire film From Dusk Till Dawn. After that came 'blaxploitation' movie Jackie Brown, his third film as director and an adaptation of an Elmore Leonard novel. There was barely a gore-splattered moment, and audiences and critics were not convinced. Five years of silence followed.

Rumours began to circulate. Tarantino was spotted, muttering to himself, at his pre-fame Los Angeles haunts. Insiders said he had alienated himself from Hollywood, that he was arrogant - he persists in refusing to join The Directors Guild of America, which has cost him useful connections.

Girlfriends, including actress Mira Sorvino, came and went. Speculation about various projects - a film with Madonna, a prequel to Pulp Fiction, a James Bond movie - failed to amount to anything. Occasionally, he emerged from hiding for a screen appearance - he played a blind preacher in Adam Sandler's Little Nicky - and to host the Austin film festival, as he does every year.

And he backed Hong Kong film Iron Monkey, directed by Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fight choreographer Yuen Wo Ping. But there were no films of his own. The master's creative force appeared to be spent.

In reality, Tarantino was working hard. Kill Bill was written first as a novel, which will be published in May, and then as a script. For months, he sat in his New York apartment surrounded by his collection of pop-culture memorabilia and tapped away with two fingers on the 222-page manuscript. 'For the past few years, it's been about me and pieces of paper,' he has said.

'People think I'm not doing anything, but I've been working hard. I spent a year writing a war movie, but it became the equivalent of my "great American novel" and I had to set it aside for a while. Then I spent another year writing Kill Bill.' The war film is a World War II buddy film-cum-spaghetti western called Inglorious B*****ds, which starts shooting after Kill Bill is finished and is set for release next year. …

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Can Kill Bill Save Tarantino?; Quentin Tarantino Shook the Film World with Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, Then His Star Faded. Now, as These Exclusive Pictures from His New Film Reveal, He's Back with a Vengeance
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