Kill Bill: Volume 2

"Very Good"

Kill Bill: Volume 2 Review


Everything the kinetic, colorful, superficially violent "Kill Bill: Volume 1" lacked in depth and character is remedied tenfold in Quentin Tarantino's stunning, cunning conclusion to his epic revenge fantasy.

Gone are the absurdist bloodbaths and the superficial grindhouse storytelling, and in their stead the wily writer-director transitions (with masterfully effortless cinematic aplomb) into a character- and dialogue-driven feast of substance and surprises -- which is, nonetheless, still punctuated by spectacularly stylish swordplay.

After a winking mock-noir prologue of recap narration, Tarantino opens "Volume 2" with a parched black-and-white flashback to the wedding rehearsal (glimpsed throughout last year's installment) at which The Bride (Uma Thurman), an unnamed and incognito former assassin trying to go straight, was brutally gunned down (along with everyone in attendance) by her former compatriots.

In this scene alone, there is more disturbingly calm import and essence than in all of "Volume 1," as Bill (David Carradine), the titular former boss and lover of the now-pregnant Bride turns up to wish her well in a lingering, visually imaginative reunion of outward composure and inward trepidation.

As The Bride begins to let down her guard under Bill's velvety-voice reassurance, the tension in this moment becomes inversely tremendous because we've seen what's coming. In the story's first installment Thurman has awakened from a coma six years after being left for dead in the mayhem that we're about to witness. But in a signal of his unexpected shift in tone, Tarantino pulls away in a crane shot as Bill's four remaining killers-for-hire enter the dusty West Texas church slinging machine guns.

The film then picks up where "Volume 1" left off: The vengeful Bride has slain two of those now-retired assassins (suburban mom Vivica A. Fox and deceptively delicate Yakuza mob boss Lucy Liu) in blood-soaked battles, and now she's gunning for the remaining pair as she beats a corpse-littered path to Bill's door.

Before it's over, she'll be shot-gunned in the chest with rock salt and buried alive by vindictive but melancholy and seemingly resigned-to-die Michael Madsen in a scene that makes chilling use of pitch blackness and 5.1 Dolby sound, and she'll be confronted with her own custom-made katana sword by psychotic, one-eyed Daryl Hannah in a close-quarters duel royale that literally tears down the walls of a trailer home in the desert.

Tarantino inter-cuts it all with character-rich scenes from The Bride's past, including her rigorous training at the wispy-white-beard-stroking hands of a merciless, 1,000-year-old, monastery-living martial arts master (Gordon Liu) straight out of a samurai movie.

These plot-entwining episodes have a style all their own, with grainy, oversaturated photography peppered with silly kung-fu-movie zooms, and the backstory they provide is part of the deliberate dichotomy of exploitation and depth between the two volumes of "Kill Bill." It's a difference so pronounced that I think it would be hard to watch the two films back-to-back -- and yet, in (retrospective) context most of the first half's inadequacies come out in the wash, revealing the whole of "Kill Bill" to be nothing short of 100-percent pure, trademarked Tarantino-brand genius.

The director's dexterity is especially evident when he takes another spectacular and startling sharp turn toward thorny emotional complexity as The Bride finally does come face-to-face with Bill. Thanks to Tarantino's gift for deliciously effusive, accessibly esoteric, pop-whacko dialogue and Carradine's unexpectedly earthy, enlightened, calmly charismatic performance as the mass-murdering assassin squad kingpin, this psychologically-charged passage becomes as much of a showdown as any action set-piece that comes before it.

If the completed "Kill Bill" has any Achilles' heel, it's that the stimulating astuteness of "Volume 2" raises the project's stock to the point that plot holes are harder to shrug off. Tarantino never explains why the other assassins wanted, with such vicious venom, to see The Bride "suffer to her last breath." I was expecting the backstory to reveal some double-cross -- but it never came. Neither does he realize how it lowers The Bride's credibility as a brilliant ex-assassin that she can't seem to get the drop on her opponents -- especially when they have a relatively easy time getting the drop on her. And say, just where does the girl keep getting all those new clothes, motorcycles and cars?

But just as the unflappable Thurman unexpectedly reveals a plethora of pensive layers between of cold-blooded rage and re-awakened vulnerability over the course of the two films, "Kill Bill" also grows steadily in vitality and audacity as "Volume 2" builds to a climax that is at once comical, gripping, elegant and powerfully raw.

The movie's most brilliant moment, however, comes a little earlier, and in another flashback as The Bride discovers that she's pregnant just before what should be another fight scene. The comedic tension of that ensuing episode may well rival Samuel L. Jackson's diner showdown with Tim Roth in "Pulp Fiction" as the ultimate example of Tarantino at the top of his wry, incisive game.



Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 26 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 1st April 2004

Box Office Worldwide: $152.2M

Budget: $30M

Production compaines: Super Cool ManChu, Miramax Films, A Band Apart

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

IMDB: 5.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Beatrix 'The Bride' Kiddo, as Bill, as Elle Driver, as Budd, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui as Pai Mei, as Esteban Vihaio, Perla Haney-Jardine as B.B. Kiddo, Larry Bishop as Larry Gomez, Samuel L. Jackson as Rufus, as O-Ren Ishii, Vivica A. Fox as Vernita Green, as Sofie Fatale, Christopher Allen Nelson as Tommy Plympton, Helen Kim as Karen Kim, as Rocket, as Boss Tanaka, Goro Daimon as Boss Honda, as Boss Koji / Crazy 88, as Boss Ozawah, as Boss Benta, Sachiko Fujii as The 5, 6, 7, 8's, Sakichi Satô as Charlie Brown, Yôji Tanaka as Crazy 88, Sô Yamanaka as Crazy 88, Issei Takahashi as Crazy 88, as Gogo

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.