Kill Bill: Volume II

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Director: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Producers: Lawrence Bender
Uma Thurman as The Bride, David Carradine as Bill, Michael Madsen as Bud
In the second installment of this motion picture, the lead character of The Bride continues her vengeful ways by searching for, stalking and then ultimately, attempting to kill, all of the ex-partners who tried to kill her while she was pregnant and getting married. The Bride’s ultimate goal is to kill Bill, the man behind it all. Needless to say, she’s still pissed and kickin’ ass, with plenty of flashbacks providing us with more background on everyone involved in the festivities. The killing of a man named Bill…ensues.
I liked this movie, but it didn’t bowl me over as much as the first volume did, with a lot less action, less style and a few too many monologues to keep me entirely riveted in a tale that isn’t exactly the “deepest” to begin with (man tries to kill woman…woman vows revenge) That said, I still couldn’t help but be taken y Tarantino’s infectious world of characters, mood, sound and dialogue, with plenty of fun to go around, groovy set-ups, suspense and original kills (a lot less killings this time around, but creative ones) Uma Thurman also continued to carry the torch of the avenger proudly with yet another commendable, and possibly even award-worthy, performance. Michael Madsen added that perfect sense of “cool” to the film, with a seemingly resigned character, who nonetheless provided the film with that extra spark. I absolutely love the scene in which he’s called in to speak to his boss at the tittie bar. Classic Tarantino. Daryl Hannah is also fun here, particularly in respect to both of her “encounters”, both of which are extremely memorable! Unfortunately for me, I didn’t particularly get into the titular character of “Bill”, who despite being played very effectively by David Carradine, just plain bored me at times and was stuffed with too many “stories” about this and that (didn’t much care for his Superman analogy either) It almost felt like Tarantino was working his own shit out through that character and despite it possibly sounding interesting “on paper”, it simply didn’t translate well to the big screen, especially when tacked on to a “slow talker”.

Seeing as the film’s final 20-30 minutes concentrated specifically on the lead and Bill’s confrontation, I was somewhat disappointed by the way that section dragged a little, and would have preferred a conclusion of greater impact and succinctness. It didn’t help that it also featured a couple of somewhat “unbelievable” scenarios in which a man blasts a gun in a house in which a kid is sleeping (and the kid doesn’t wake up?) and a trained killer changes her mind about a “mark” after the victim-to-be claims to be pregnant (what kind of hitman school did you go to?) That said, I did appreciate the final moments between The Bride and Bill, which made absolute sense and clicked, as well as the film’s funky blend of Western/Asian score, as created by Robert Rodriguez and The RZA (although his work on the GHOST DOG score rocked even harder) Unfortunately, the emphasis on the film’s score left us without Tarantino’s trademark inclusion of choice pop tunes…darn. I also appreciated the film’s cameos, in-jokes (“Natural born killer…”– NICE!), improvement in dialogue from the first installment and both the grand opening and closing credits. Groovy. A particular section of the movie which surprisingly tickled my entertainment bone was the entire “training sequence” with Pai Mei, which I had expected to be long and boring, but actually turned out to be short and quite funny. The man’s got a chip on his shoulder the size of my ass! (word on the street was that Tarantino himself was set to play that character, but thankfully changed his mind during filming)

Style-wise, the movie still played it pretty quirky, with some creative sequences here and there including someone being buried alive (bring night-goggles), split-screens, an all-out chick hand-to-hand combat brawl in a dingy little trailer, as well as the detailed presentation of the infamous “wedding chapel” sequence in black & white. Now despite enjoying the film overall, I suspect that the first part’s greater impact weighed negatively on my overall enthusiasm for this one, making it feel a little less necessary, innovative or tight. I’m not sure if the film’s release date move from early February might’ve lessened my buzz on it, but I’m very curious to see how it plays with those who adored the first one, a movie which was a lot more about showmanship and fun (in my opinion). I liked this movie, but unlike the first one, don’t foresee watching it again anytime soon (ironically, this film’s end credits featuring shots from the first movie had me, well…missing the first one’s more visceral experience). It is, on the other hand, a solid conclusion to an interesting experiment which likely led both the film’s director and distributor, to “milk” it for all that it was worth…and maybe just a little more. I can’t imagine watching this entire 4-hour epic in one sitting (wasn’t it originally supposed to be only 3 hours?), but as two pieces of a greater, cooler pie, it’s a grand ol’ time at the movies and then some. PS: Love the eye!

(c) 2021 Berge Garabedian

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