Unlike Steve, who hated Kill Bill, (and like Ebert, who gave it his top rating), I loved Kill Bill, Volume 1 (see also Kill Bill at IMDB, which curiously already has a listing for Kill Bill, Volume 2).
I’m perhaps influenced by Tarantino’s introduction to Iron Monkey, a film which Tarantino brought to the United States. Tarantino is clearly a disciple of masters like Woo-ping Yuen, and in Kill Bill, he shows he now has achieved a respectable level of mastery.
One of my favorite quotes from Tarantino’s interview in Iron Monkey describes how the kung-fu film can’t be only a comedy, or an action film, or a drama, or a love story: the audience for the kung-fu film demands all these things in one sitting. Tarantino achieves this sort manic roller coaster ride in Kill Bill (okay, well, maybe it’s not much of a love story, but it has everything else).
I’m reminded a bit of modern jazz artists like Wynton Marsalis, whose every note is a tribute to their heritage. Marsalis may not be as “original” as was Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie, but he’s still a lot of fun to listen to, and his technical mastery exceeds that of his musical mentors.
Tarantino may not be “original” in Kill Bill, but I believe originality is highly overrated—and essentially impossible. In fact, the premium on novelty is a modern invention. In the past, artists sought not to do what had never been done, but rather to perfectly imitate their forerunners.