Having just awoken from a four-year coma, The Bride (Uma Thurman) sets out to exact
revenge on the five individuals (former co-workers, from an elite
team known as "The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad") who tried to kill her on
her wedding day. "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" (IMDb listing) consists of The Bride meeting up with the sadistic Budd (Michael Madsen), finding herself buried deep in trouble, and remembering
her time with martial arts master Pai Mei (Gordon Lui). Then there's Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), a single-minded
assassin who wants The Bride dead no matter the cost. After writing out her
"Death List Five," The Bride is slowly making her way to the team leader, Bill
(David Carradine, finally onscreen), who is looking forward to his second chance
to kill The Bride.
The original idea (albeit brief) was to release "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" six weeks
after "Vol. 1" opened last October. Then a February date was selected, but didn't stick. Now, 6 months later, we finally get to see what happens to The
Bride and her "Death List Five." However, there's no more list in "Vol. 2," and
no Crazy 88 bloodbath. Writer/director Quentin Tarantino has taken this unusual
opportunity to split his original film into two distinct parts, creating a
"Vol. 2" that is almost a completely different experience than "Vol. 1."
Since the opening of "Vol. 2" is actually the midway point in Tarantino's
screenplay, audience members who are looking for the same type of thrill ride
that "Vol. 1" provided will be slightly unnerved at the lack of a kick in the
film's opening act. "Vol. 2" takes a good hour to really ramp up to the energy
level that the first film dieted on. Detractors that complained about the
absence of Tarantino's dialog should be pleased, as "Vol. 2" is made up
almost entirely of Quentinesque speeches (on the nature of the Superman/Clark
Kent identity crisis for example) and retorts. So much so, that the action that
was such a cornerstone of the first film is barely a feature in the picture.
Fear not. Tarantino does bring out the heavy artillery when it comes time
to throw down, including a brawl between The Bride and Elle Driver in a tiny
trailer parked in the middle of the desert. The two ladies go after each other
like rabid dogs, smashing heads into walls, unable to unsheathe their swords due
to the low ceiling, and ending up in the bathroom, covered in toilet water,
blood, and tobacco spit (don't ask). It's a humdinger, and returns that visual
and visceral contact high that "Vol. 1" built a tower of greatness on. I would
even say that, while less violent than the first film, "Vol. 2" is twice as
brutal, with Tarantino acutely detailing the hardships faced by The Bride on her
trip to see the sadistic martial arts master Pai Mei, and the Elle fight, which
ends with an unbelievable conclusion that you won't, ahem, see coming.
"Vol. 2" also features a deceleration on the berserk visuals of "Vol. 1." Where
Tarantino was playing tribute to his grindhouse and kung-fu flick youth in the
first film, "Vol. 2" is more of a spaghetti western and cockeyed domestic drama.
The new film has Tarantino playing with black and white photography, and using desert and tropical vistas to backdrop the story. The pace of
the film is slower as well; the pure and simple revenge philosophy in "Vol. 1"
is now greatly complicated as The Bride learns more about the situation with
Bill and the child she believed was lost during her coma. The bullet train
momentum of the first film is missed, but Tarantino has replaced it with a
more classic filmmaking atmosphere, making "Vol. 2" the more stirring of the two
Former "Kung-Fu" star David Carradine is a force of
nature in "Vol. 2," turning in the performance of his lifetime. He's astonishing
as the titular creep, bringing deeply seeded believability to his snake-like
ways. In this brief shining moment, he is the man of nightmares,
and provides damn fine reasons why The Bride should complete the quest of the
If there's anything left to be said about the luminous Uma Thurman after "Vol.
1," it's this: she's even better in "Vol. 2." As with Carradine, this is simply
a stunning performance. Thurman has a way of making her whole body quake with
emotion that is utterly jaw dropping to behold. Tarantino brings out the best in
her, and working here with a little more dramatic fat, Thurman doesn't skip a
beat. Just watch her face as she goes under the "cruel tutelage" of Pai Mei.
You've never seen an actress deliver a performance of pure pain like this
before. Where is her Oscar?
Throw in a familiar Tarantino cameo, some more brilliantly chosen
soundtrack cuts, and an exquisite climax to the film (not with words, but with a
pure expression of emotion), and Tarantino has nailed a perfect conclusion to
his magnum opus. I'm sad to see it go, but I'm even more relieved to see it
Filmfodder Grade: A+