Friday, January 10, 2014

#1,243. Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)

Directed By: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen

Tag line: "Kill is love"

Trivia: The entire first reel of this film is presented in black and white

Picking up where Kill Bill Vol. 1 left off, the Bride (Uma Thurman), having dispatched two former colleagues of the Viper Assassination Squad, sets her sights on the remaining three: Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Bud (Michael Madsen) and her former boss and lover, Bill (David Carradine). 

Still pissed about being shot and left for dead in an El Paso wedding chapel, an attack she believes also claimed the life of her unborn child, The Bride continues her “Roaring rampage of revenge”, only this time she’s in for more than the fight of her life; there’s a big surprise waiting for her at the end of the line.

Where Kill Bill Vol. 1 had a distinctly “Eastern” feel (aside from the fact a major portion of the film was set in Japan, Vol. 1 also featured an anime sequence, and co-starred Sonny Chiba, whose movies The Street Fighter and The Bodyguard are personal favorites of director Quentin Tarantino's), Vol. 2 shifted the action to the American West, paying homage to several classics of the western genre (during a flashback sequence at the Wedding Chapel, Tarantino frames a shot of the Bride standing in a doorway, a nod to the final moments of John Ford’s The Searchers). 

Aside from switching locales, Kill Bill Vol. 2 still features plenty of what made Vol. 1 such a fun movie, including pulse-pounding action (my favorite scene being the well-choreographed fight with Elle Driver) and a handful of flashbacks that help flesh out the story (there’s an extended sequence in which The Bride, back when she first joined the Viper Assassination Squad, is trained by martial arts master Pai-Mei, portrayed by the legendary Gordon Liu). 

Then, of course, we have the inevitable showdown with Bill, at which point the final twist is revealed (and it’s a doozy). I’ve heard some people complain that these last scenes are a bit too talky, and don’t have enough action. Personally, I loved the give-and-take between Bill and the Bride (Bill’s take on the mythos of Superman is a definite highlight). Snappy dialogue has always been one of Tarantino’s trademarks, and in my opinion, the final act of Kill Bill Vol. 2 features some of his “snappiest” to date.

As with the first film, the cast of Kill Bill Vol. 2 is superb. Daryl Hannah is sadistic as hell as the Bride’s arch-nemesis, Elle Driver, and David Carradine shines as Bill, who, after being something of an enigma in Vol. 1, dominates a large chunk of this movie. 

And then there’s Uma Thurman, who explores a wide range of emotions here. She was so effective in the role, in fact, that the Golden Globes nominated her for Best Actress (which they also did a year earlier, for her work in Vol. 1). 

These performances, coupled with Tarantino’s razor-sharp script, helped transform the entire Kill Bill saga into a top-notch, must-see action series.

1 comment:

Anthony Lee Collins said...

This is how to do a sequel (if we think of it for a moment as a sequel), which nobody ever does. Sequels are almost always The Same Thing, But More, And Louder, and More Explosions.

As you point out, there are a lot of great things about this movie, and they are mostly very different from the great things about Vol. 1.

Damn, now I was to watch the whole thing again, and I have to get ready for work. :-(