really wish I could have seen Kill
Bill vol. 1 again
before I went into vol. 2. Though Tarantino gives us enough
background so that those who missed the first round aren't
utterly lost, it would have been nice to have the refresher.
So those of you who plan to see Kill Bill vol. 2, (as
well you should) go out and find a copy of the recently released
DVD of vol. 1 and settle in with some jiffy-pop.
Bill is a revenge movie
I say movie singular, because
vol. 2 is not a sequel, it's a second half of a really long
movie. Our heroine is known only as "The Bride,"
played by Uma Thurman, a lovely young woman whose wedding
is shot up by a man from her past - the titular Bill. In vol.
1, she awakes from the coma that Bill left her in, and goes
on a systematic rampage, hunting down and slaying those who
go on and on about how much I loved it, but I'm supposed to
be reviewing vol. 2 here. 2 picks up roughly where 1 left
off, however with Tarantino's non-linear storytelling style,
there's still plenty of temporal shifting going on. We're
filled in on more details of the wedding gone awry, and the
relationship between the Bride and Bill is further fleshed
out. In fact, there is a huge amount of exposition in this
one, especially as compared to vol. 1. The first film seemed
like a physically violent warm-up to the more emotionally
brutal action of vol. 2.
is put through many layers of hell, only the least of which
involve pain, and Thurman's fear and anguish are palpable
and resonant. In a scene that will bring out the claustrophobia
in everyone, the Bride has a few moments of quality panic
that can't help but quicken the pulse. That or I'm a bit too
susceptible to depictions of enclosed spaces
even go to submarine movies anymore.
There's a whole lot less ass kicking that goes on in vol.
2, and I can't say I don't miss it, but Tarantino's flair
for dialog and humor more than makes up for it. In fact, that
would be the widest separation between the two films. While
vol. 1 was chock-full of stunning battles, masterful swordplay,
and tributes to the classics of Asian action cinema, it lacked
character development and depth. The Bride was out to kill
the people who killed her. That was all the reason we needed.
In vol. 2
however, the history behind Bill and the Bride's relationship
is explored. We also learn some of the background of the Deadly
Viper Assassin Squad, how they were trained, and who they really
are to each other. Tarantino deftly weaves together the past
and present, and with the exception of a pun-bomb dropped in
the second act, shows uncharacteristic restraint in his storytelling.
This leaves room for the richness of Thurman's performance to
come through without getting tangled up in heavy-handed direction.
this is a wonderful showcase for Thurman. Up until Kill
Bill vol. 1, I'd never been much of a fan of hers. Maybe
it was my "short/slightly pudgy girl" body image,
but I could never connect with the willowy Thurman. Then again
could just be a long standing grudge against The Avengers
Batman and Robin, oh and Gattaca. Yeesh! Anyway
is forgiven. I most definitely appreciate her now. She's damn,
damn good in this, and anchors the movie with a still, focused
rage. There's an element of Zen calm within her that propels
her through her mission, and becomes even more evident when
it slips, and she struggles to reclaim it. It's probably wishful
thinking, but I'm pulling for an Oscar nod here.
I've always appreciated about Tarantino is his gift for pulling
great performances out of his actors. Everybody is great in
this - David Carradine as Bill delivers a wry, personable
performance that almost makes you want to forgive him for
being a murderous bastard.
Hannah, the ageless and underused (at least in good movies)
burns in her scenes as Elle Driver, A.K.A. California Mountain
Snake, and her gleeful hatred of the Bride makes their battle
scene oh so much fun. Though most of the characters in this
lil' epic have some emotional problems, they're all more or
less sane. Elle is truly psychopathic, and she makes for a
fascinating wild card.
are some very minor flaws. There are bits where it veers into
excessive exposition and babble, and Thurman's opening monolog
- which I assume to be some sort of homage to something I'm
not film-geek enough to get - is a little stilted. But overall,
I had a great time. Refresh your memory with Kill Bill
vol. 1, and then see vol. 2. It's some good cinema!