Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kill... Brown Eyed Girls?

Hey, uh… do you guys like watching movies?

And I don’t mean like going to the movie theater every so often to watch a blockbuster, I mean watching movies. Like going through Netflix to find movies to watch for fun. Or browsing through your local DVD store (if those still even exist) for the sole purpose of buying movies. Do you get what I’m trying to say? Well, I don’t know about all of you, but I freaking love watching movies. I don’t even think I can properly list all the reasons I love watching movies. I love that a really good movie can transport you to this alternate universe, even if it’s only for a couple hours. I love that they can be analyzed and picked apart. I love the variety of genres, how the visuals can vary with style, the effects, the characters, I just really, really love watching movies. Even bad movies! Do you have any idea how entertaining it is to rag on a bad movie!? I've said before and I’ll say it again: had I never started the Wonderland, very likely I probably would have started a movie blog.

Ever since middle school, when I started going to the movie theater more regularly and checking Rotten Tomatoes for upcoming movies, I’m always looking for movies I haven’t watched from classics, to B-movies, to anything else in-between. As a result, I have a somewhat wide knowledge of movies that I've watched or are on my watch list. One of my favorite directors (and believe me, I have a lot), is Quentin Tarantino. What I really enjoy about his work is that he has a very distinct visual style with each film he makes. From the colors to the editing, all his films manage to stand out in both plot and visuals. One of my favorite Tarantino films is his two-volume Kill Bill, a tale of revenge and how far one woman will go to obtain it. If you can handle blood and guts (because there are copious amounts in nearly any Tarantino film), I would highly recommend checking Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2 out. Both films showcase a diverse set of characters who each stand out on their own, along with a variety of visual styles from exploited films to 1970s kung-fu films to even Westerns.

Now why is all this important? Well, because I'm reviewing Kill Bill!

Oh yeah, the Brown Eyed Girls song. Not the movie.

There, that's better!

You know, it really baffles me why I haven't just up and started following Brown Eyed Girls yet. I mean, Cleansing Cream is one of the few K-pop songs I can listen to on a regular basis. I liked Sixth Sense and Abracadabra all right, and their accompanying music videos were pretty cool too. And I loved Bloom, which was a solo single released by Ga In, one of the group's members. Hell, I even know all four of the members' names: Narsha, Jea, Ga In, and Miryo! That's a huge step for me! Sure, I still can't match names to faces... but it's a lot better recognition than many of the other K-pop groups I can't tell apart. So why? What's keeping me from actively blogging about and reviewing this group? Well, I think part of it has to do with inconsistency. I never know when BEG is releasing anything thanks to that "comeback" system popular in K-pop (which I still don't get by the way). So the time in-between their releases is so long that after awhile, I just kind of forget about them because I have a lot more important idol groups in the J-pop market to cover.

And I have to admit, beyond the singles BEG has released, not much of their other material stands out to me. Hell, even some of the songs they've released as singles don't stand out to me. Like I listened to Black Box, their most recent album, in an attempt to really get into them. Unfortunately, beyond the song I'm reviewing, none of the other songs jumped out at me. I think it's probably because K-pop is a genre that just has a hard time appealing to me, but even then, I feel like it's beyond just the genre of music. It's a shame because I do have at little bit of admiration for the members of BEG as people. They seem like very mature, self-aware idols who aren't afraid to openly discuss some of the more polarizing aspects of the K-pop idol industry, i.e. plastic surgery. So even if I can't always get into this group's music, I do want to say that I tip my metaphorical bowler hat towards what BEG stands for as a group.

With that out of the way, let's talk about Kill Bill. I'll be honest, I probably wouldn't have taken the time to review this song and PV if it wasn't based around the Quentin Tarantino movie I said I was such a huge fan of. In fact, had I not stumbled across the PV for Kill Bill by sheer chance on Youtube, very likely I would have kept blogging on my merry way, oblivious to its existence. Luckily, that was not to happen. As much as I want to get straight to talking about the PV for Kill Bill, I do at least need to go over the song. Kill Bill is a K-pop song, and it sounds very much like a K-pop song. Okay, categorizing Kill Bill as just a "K-pop song" is a little vague; what I'm trying to say is the sound and styling incorporated into the song does not sound like your typical J-pop, especially not the idol music I review. I've stated before that I'm not a huge fan of a lot of K-pop songs for various reasons pertaining to the sounds reminiscent of a lot of Western music. But to be honest, I really like Kill Bill. Because while it does sound like a K-pop song, it doesn't sound like a generic K-pop song.

I think listening to it a lot helped the song grow on me, but I still think this is a really good song. What drew me in to the song at first was the whistle that opened the song, and that tune lingered throughout the rest of the song. I'd like to think it was a callback to the Twisted Nerve theme from Kill Bill Vol. 1, but even if it's not, it's still a really good hook. And it's that swinging, catchy hook that keeps the song's momentum going; it's not overdone either! This is going to sound kind of weird, but if I stretch my imagination, I almost think Kill Bill the song matches the tone of the movie. It's fun, but also intense, it has a catchy hook involving whistling and... See? Perfect fit! Well, just like the movies, Kill Bill isn't a song for everyone, but if you're looking for an energetic song that makes you want to break into the House of Blue Leaves and fight all the Crazy 88, I'd give Kill Bill a listen! Personally, I'm glad that I did since I found what's shaping up to be my "token K-pop of the year that I really like."

But let's be honest, I just wanted to review Kill Bill so I could fangirl over the PV. I should probably clarify that this screencap is chock full of spoilers for both Volume 1 and 2 so if you have interest in seeing both movies and don't want to be spoiled... you should probably skip this screencap! For the rest of you that don't give a shit about spoilers, read on!

Like Volumes 1 and 2, this PV opens with a black-and-white scene!

But as you can see, the content of each scene is slightly different. I don't recall a tattooed woman painting on a guy's back in the movie...

Jea lurks just below the bed, holding a deadly tarantula in a jar!

You might be wondering why this scene is poorly shopped with a cartoon-y looking spider. Well, as someone with crippling arachnophobia, giant tarantulas tend to frighten me. So to prevent myself from freaking out while I was doing this screencap, I had Chiima shop a cartoon spider over the deadly tarantula.

The PV and Vol 1 each feature the same quote in their openings: "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

Oh, that's nice reversal to have Ga In (that is Ga In, right?) dressed as a blood splattered bride pulling the trigger!

In the original Volume 1, it was unfortunately The Bride doomed to be shot in the head by Bill, leader of that gang of assassins she used to be part of!

And in a cruel twist of fate, Jea is the first to go down with Ga In literally shooting her eye out!

Another nice little reference to the film. The titular Bill also had a handkerchief with his initials on it.


I think the "Bill" is crossed out in the title because the members of BEG just spend the whole PV trying to kill each other instead.

Seriously, from here on, it's the members of BEG dropping like flies in the most awesomely dramatic ways possible!

You can't deny death by hairpin is a pretty wicked way to go.

Bang, bang, she shot... uh... the door down!

Along with Narsha!

Three girls down, one left standing. But has she truly bested our other three protagonists?

Not with that demon spider from hell still alive and crawling about...

And thus the violent confrontation ends with five girls dead. But does the story end here?

If you know the movie, things are only just beginning...

I'd know that snazzy trench coat anywhere!

That's supposed to be Elle Driver, the merciless and hot-tempered California Mountain Snake!

Or BEG's version of Elle Driver anyways.

I assume the comatose Ga In is representing The Bride at the beginning of Volume 1.

I have to say though, Ga In sure looks a whole lot healthier than The Bride did!

I smell a tumultuous past that will never be elaborated on!

I should probably point out now that a dance shot is present in this PV but it's not that interesting and I'm not going to focus on it much.

I have to say, I'm really impressed with the cinematography for this PV.

I mean, look at this shot from the film, and then look at the one from the PV below.

It doesn't directly mirror Tarantino's but it does pretty damn good job at capturing the feel he wanted to set for each of his scenes.

I think I understand why Jea calls herself the Bloody Blue Spider... eugh.

What a convenient time to awake from a coma!

Ga In gets a puntastic code name. I like it!

But the deadly syringe of deadliness is zooming towards her! Whatever shall she do!?

So either Jea has really shitty aim due to losing her eye or Ga In flipped the syringe on her...

I think Narsha is supposed to represent Budd but it's a little unclear...

Mainly because Budd was a washed-up bouncer in the films.

Either way, she's taking Miryo out in the most cruel and sadistic way: burying her alive!

How are you even supposed to say Narsha's code name out loud? Do you spell it or just say it all together?

In fact, how come none of these code names have cohesiveness?

The films had all the code names based around deadly snakes. Here it's... I don't know? Traits relating to each member of BEG???

Whatever, Ga In's got some people to murder and some legs to rejuvenate!

It's probably a good thing they didn't incorporate the Pussy Wagon into this PV... you never know what age demographic is watching this.

I sure hope Miryo trained with Pei Mei so she knows how to bust out of that coffin!

Oh hey, Jea's still alive! Girl doesn't go down easily, huh?

Wiggle your big toe, Ga In.

Alone Narsha waits, with her Hattori Hanzo sword, in her Budd-esque trailer.

The next scene is pretty much a shot-for-shot remake of the brutal but awesome fight between Beatrix Kiddo and Elle Driver.

But hey, if you're gonna do a shot-for-shot remake, this one is perfect for it!

The violence is downplayed though, I think because again, the demographic.

That and fight scenes are really hard to choreograph, especially close fight scenes like the one in Volume 2.

But I do recommend watching the original fight because it is really well-done.

Man, how long's Jea been straddling herself on that ceiling!? Girl's got endurance!

I wish they'd had enough time to show Miryo completely digging herself out and going to the cafe to ask for a glass of water like in Volume 2.

That was one of my favorite parts in Volume 2!

Narsha just seems to magically attract shotgun blasts, doesn't she?

I think I see why Miryo goes by Guns n' Roses...

But a shotgun's nothing against a vengeful woman that's fast with a knife!

And down Miryo goes with a knife not the head but to the stomach!

The last one alive ends up being the first one who went down before... Jea!!

Nevermind, Narsha shoots her down just before keeling over herself!

And so the moral of this story kids is don't go around killing people because you'll just end up dead!

The end!

Damn, I don't think I've had such a long screencap since Gingham Check... then again, none of my PV reviews have come near the amount of pictures for Gingham Check, including Kill Bill. But hey, do you know what those two PVs have in common? They're both homages! Gingham Check was a mishmash of homages to different film genres popular in Japan, whereas Kill Bill is an homage to a film series... which was also an homage to different film genres, Japanese film included. Along with Westerns, kung-fu movies, B-movies... a lot of quirky film genres popular in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s. Just know that the end result is an awesome blend of different film styles that all vividly are brought to life with much affection onto the screen. Now I've watched Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2 several times, enough to know the plot and the many highlights of each movie. Not only that, I've stated previously that I'm a huge fan of the two films.

But while I'd like to give an opinion as someone who's watched and enjoyed the films BEG's version of Kill Bill reenacts, I also have to step back and look at this PV as someone who has never seen either film. I pity the person who hasn't but hey, everyone has their own tastes regarding movies. The defining element of Kill Bill the PV is that it is an homage to one specific movie. Not a genre, one film. Just one. I raise this question: can the PV for Kill Bill still be enjoyable to someone who has not watched the films? The delicate line an homage has to balance is that it has to include just enough material from the original content to strike a chord with fans of said content, but it also can't get so lost in trying to callback the original material that the final product is lost in its own references and shout-outs. I have seen plenty an homage that I was completely lost in because I either did not know the source material as thoroughly as I needed to or I didn't know the source material at all. So the challenge that Kill Bill faced was not only making an entertaining and well-done homage, but an homage that was able to connect with audiences both familiar and unfamiliar with the films.

Let's be honest, cramming over three hours worth of material chock full of standout moments and breakout characters into a seven-minute PV is no easy feat. I admire BEG for even attempting to make an homage to a franchise such as Kill Bill, regardless of how well they pulled it off. As a fan of the original Kill Bill, I really loved this PV. Like... it's probably one of if not my favorite PV for 2013. Unless another idol group whips out something even more impressive in the upcoming four months. When I was first watching this PV, I kept mentally pointing out all the scenes and characters I recognized from the original movies and getting increasingly excited with each new reference made. And as I watched the PV over and over again, I just liked it more and more. I love homages when done well; I practically had a heart attack with the PV for Gingham Check. And the fact that Kill Bill is an homage to one of my favorite film series and well-done one at that? Let's just say it puts me in a very ecstatic state of mind.

I actually think the PV does a pretty good job of including many of the pivotal scenes from both movies, even if there were a few scenes I wish they'd been able to wedge into the PV in some way, shape, or form. And of course, much of the plot and characterization from the movies also had to get cut. But hey, this was a PV not a rendition of the movies! In BEG's version of Kill Bill, revenge is still the overlying theme but the desired revenge is not towards Bill but the four members of BEG. All part of a gang of assassins called the Brown Eyed Girls Squad (original name, huh?) through circumstances unknown to the audience, these four women have all decided that they need to kill each other. Their first attempt at doing each other in leaves Jea with one eye and Ga In in a coma, Narsha and Miryo's fates unknown. Four years later, they all find out (again, through unseen circumstances) that they're all still alive, and set out to do what they were doing to each other before meeting their near-deaths: finally finishing the deed and trying to kill each other!

I think even if you haven't watched the movie, you can still gather that's the basic plot of this PV. And you can probably find entertainment in the over-the-top ways the women of BEG try and kill each other. However... I really think the best way to enjoy the PV for Kill Bill is to watch the movies. I mean, unless you're a die-hard fan of BEG and love anything and everything they touch. There are just so many great references to the films that you can only catch if you watch them. Like the way the PV is shot is so reminiscent of Tarantino's cinematography, especially when Ga In and Narsha fight in the trailer. A shout-out to the fight between Beatrix Kiddo and Elle Driver, this brutal, merciless fight is in my opinion, one of the best fight scenes in Vol. 2. The closeness of the area they're fighting in along with the sheer malice you can feel between the two women fighting is just so captivating. The reenactment stands well on its own; the cinematography is very similar to the original, and while this fight is much more toned down, it's still awesome seeing the fight reenacted.

And the hospital scene was perfect; the editing was so reminiscent of Tarantino's it was almost eerie. I don't know what it is about homages in idol PVs, but it's like I got this little thrill of watching each scene I knew and loved from the original movies unfold in the PV for Kill Bill. And the fact that an idol group took on this kind of PV was such a surprise to me. Don't get me wrong, it was an extremely pleasant surprise, but nonetheless a surprise. I guess it always surprises me when I see idol groups paying homage to media that I'm familiar with, but in a really good way. That reason alone is what makes Kill Bill's PV stand out to me. The material it pays homage to is material that I'm extremely familiar with. I think this was a great take on Kill Bill, with just enough references to the original film that it kept me excited as each scene unfolded in the PV! If you like movies, especially Quentin Tarantino movies, I absolutely recommend checking this PV out.

As a fan of Kill Bill Vol 1 and 2, I'm a tad biased towards giving out apples for Brown Eyed Girls' take on the franchise. Still, this is my blog and I can be as biased as I want on it! So I'm giving Kill Bill five out of five apples. I loved the PV for Kill Bill to the its violent end. I loved pointing out all the references to the original films, and the sheer fact that Brown Eyed Girls made a PV about Kill Bill at all brings me much joy. Again, if you haven't seen the films, I highly recommend watching Kill Bill Vol. 1 and 2. While they're very gory, they're also exuberant and fun to watch. And then you can finally understand more of what's going on in this PV! But for now, I just have one question for you guys: do you like movies? Any favorites?

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