KILL BILL VOL. 2
The Bride (Uma Thurman) continues on her quest for revenge, having dispatched three of her five betrayers in Vol 1. Now she’s after Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Budd (Michael Madsen) and last and biggest of all, Bill (David Carradine), who shot her and left her for dead at the altar – pregnant. Bill was her boss (and lover) in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and the others her colleagues. She has to use all her training to try and beat the vicious enemies who are intent on burying her. Alive. And then The Bride discovers her baby, a girl, might have been saved, and could be alive, a toddler of about 4. How will this impact on her quest for revenge?
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Quentin Tarantino revels in the art and craft of cinema; so much so he has managed to mine all his favourite genres and make the style the substance. That’s certainly true of Kill Bill Vol. 1, and even more so in Vol. 2, although in this second Vol. he manages to go further and give some meaning, and a good dose of emotion, to the big finish this film represents.
He loves the close up profiles in widescreen, where the physical context creates its own cinematic depth; he loves the ability to drive our emotions with the production designed images, the framing, the editing, the music and the perfectly choreographed action, which is tied to it all. Where Vol. 1 is a series of deadly fight sequences and only hints at the anchoring elements of the story (such as it is), Vol. 2 teases out the characters more satisfyingly, and with less self indulgence. I like it much more, and I especially like Tarantino’s sense of humour coming through in a self-knowing manner; but he keeps it in check.
The performances are truly satisfying, with only Gordon Liu as the ageing fight master Pei Mei a little discordant with a theatrical delivery. Uma Thurman and David Carradine, the latter with lots of solid screen time, make their complex relationship work despite the age gap, and infuse it with considerable tenderness considering everything.
Daryl Hannah and Michael Madsen as Bill’s deadly siblings Elle and Budd are wonderfully wacky, and perfectly pitched for the film’s tone of dead serious yet stylised.
The action is gutsy as you would expect, not quite as extensive as in Vol. 1 and that’s a good thing, but thrilling and sometimes unexpected. The cinematic action flourishes are there to remind us this is pretend killing, fantasy action for would be
Tarantino’s direction, indeed his holistic vision for the film, leaves us surprisingly uplifted, thanks to the closing emotional wrapping and the running time does just that: run.
Review by Louise Keller:
The interesting thing about Quentin Tarantino is that you never really know what to expect, and in this regard, Kill Bill Vol. 2 will not disappoint. But don’t expect a full-on repetition of frenetically choreographed action set pieces, because this time around, the focus is on the characters and why The Bride is intent to Kill Bill. In many ways it’s decidedly more satisfying, with its eclectic mix of elements that constantly challenge.
Once again, the fusion of genres – namely Spaghetti Western and Asian martial arts action – takes us on a stimulating gallop, holding our interest through each of the chapters that divide the story, much like an old fashioned Saturday afternoon matinee. The film’s effect is visceral, with music (from Ennio Moriconne, Quincy Jones and others) as the driver, and spectacular vistas and lonely outpost settings lingering like visual signposts.
There’s no question that Tarantino’s scripting is clever, giving just enough information in flashback at crucial points. This second chapter begins in black and white, taking us back to the isolated chapel just before the massacre takes place. ‘I’ve never been nice my whole life, but I’ll do my best to be sweet,’ promises Bill to The Bride, as they meet on screen for the first time. ‘Sweet’ is a word that definitely does not belong in Bill’s vocabulary. It’s a riveting scene, and every word weighs heavily with an undercurrent of hidden meaning.
With David Carradine on screen to balance Uma Thurman’s intense presence, it’s as if we are watching two wild animals balancing on a precarious see-saw. There’s plenty of tension as the see-saw wavers, and in the lead up to the much anticipated final confrontation between the two, there’s a long road to be travelled.
There are treats along the way, when we love to hate all the characters we meet – from Bill’s younger brother Budd (Michael Madsen, terrific), Darryl Hannah’s deadly, one-eyed blonde, and Gordon Liu’s martial arts master, who twiddles with his long white beard like an ethereal storybook character. There’s an art in creating such likeable villains, making each violent confrontation more satisfying. ‘Gross,’ spits Hannah’s Elle, as brown liquid is thrown on her face, but that’s not the only thing that’s gross, when the two blondes fight like two cats on heat.
Kill Bill 2 is a Quentin Tarantino road movie, with each chapter bringing a new character or a fresh direction for us to follow. It’s a blast of an escapist movie – a fitting conclusion to Tarantino’s ultimate revenge movie, with a plot that never falls into the predictable, and keeping us breathless throughout.
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KILL BILL VOL 1
KILL BILL VOLUME 2 (MA)
CAST: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Sonny Chiba, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Samuel L. Jackson, Caitlin Keats, Chiaki Kuriyama, Lucy Liu, Chia Hui Liu, Michael Madsen
PRODUCER: Lawrence Bender, Quentin Tarantino
DIRECTOR: Quentin Tarantino
SCRIPT: Quentin Tarantino, Uma Thurman
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Richardson
EDITOR: Sally Menke
MUSIC: RZA, Robert Rodriguez
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Yohedi Taneda, David Wasco
RUNNING TIME: 137 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 22, 2004