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

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

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...

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.