Chia Hui Liu
Action Drama Revenge Thriller Comedy
Trivia Stay through the credits for a blooper scene from Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Bill plays a wooden flute, which resembles the same instrument David Carradine plays as Kwai Chang Caine in Kung Fu
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Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
26th Apr 04
After dispatching two from her hitlist (O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green) in the first film, The Bride (Uma Thurman) is now after the final three – one-eyed Californian Snake Elle Driver, cowboy Sidewinder Budd (Michael Madsen) and Bill, the old Snake Charmer himself. But Bill knows she’s coming, and he may yet have one more surprise to spring.
So, after having had to wait, ooh let’s see, just about enough time for Kill Bill: Vol. 1 to come out on DVD, now we have the concluding chapter of The Bride’s mission to Kill Bill. How will she dispose of the two surviving members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad? What will she do when she finds out that her daughter is alive? Will she finally manage to embalm'er the Snake Charmer? Will we care?
Well, the answer to the latter is yes and no. If you were slightly disappointed with the first film, but felt it had some great scenes in amongst the slow-paced storyline, expect pretty much more of the same here. Yes, it does have some inspired (mostly homage) moments, and the ending is reasonably satisfying in a full-circle kinda way, but it’s really just a shame that a lot of Vol. 2 is disappointing and flat.
The film opens with Uma Thurman driving in black and white (and an obvious back-screen projection – hey, hang on, isn’t this the trailer?), as she fills us in on where the first film left off. This then brings us right into the wedding scene, and a real beauty it is too.
Gorgeous grainy black and white photography, a ‘dweeb’-perfect groom, the cheeky Samuel L Jackson cameo, and the first appearance of the sandpaper-grain skin that is David Carradine as Bill add up to a rollicking opening 10 minutes. The face-off (quite literally) between Uma Thurman’s bride and Bill as is suitably tense, succeeding in giving the opening of the film a somewhat undeserved epic entrance, ending with a reverse-track shot that serves as a picture-postcard to the classic Westerns of Sergio Leone.
But from then on the film begins to wobble. A pointless scene between Bill and Michael Madsen’s Budd (seemingly only there to provide a ‘link’ to Pulp Fiction when Budd reveals he sold his Hanzo Samurai Sward to a pawn shop) leads to more boring ‘character scenes’ before The Bride finally arrives at Budd’s caravan home with Samurai Sword drawn to get the fun going again.
Tarantino’s trademarks make their unwanted appearances, lazy almost laconic dialogue (everyone seems to talk at 1.5 miles an hour), annoying beeps on the soundtrack to cover the name of The Bride (why? We get to learn it later on anyway..), square shots making the film seem like TV on a widescreen, cringe worthy dialogue delivery.. “Wakey, wakey, eggs’n’bacy” – I ask you?) and unnecessary monologues.
The long-awaited training scene with Pai Mei (Chia Hui Liu) is also disappointing. Lacking even the heart of Mr Mayagi from The Karate Kid, this guy merely sneers and strokes his beard (a lot!) in a very annoying way. Still, at least it gives Black Mamba the chance to learn the “Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique”, which comes in useful not once, but twice.
Structurally Tarantino reverts back to his zip-forward and flashback motif, and the film, like its predecessor, is split into 5 chapters, but this time there’s not enough pace for it to keep rolling. Some scenes are just too drawn-out, with some having no real purpose to plot or character at all (why do we need to see Michael Madsen’s boss at the titty bar, My Oh My Club? What is the character Esteban doing in the film?).
It’s not all bad of course. This is Tarantino, after all, and there are plenty of highlights. Action scenes are handled very well, (the fight between Black Mamba and Darryl Hannah in particular, is a poke in the eye to any who doubt that). There is a terrifically claustrophobic ‘buried alive’ scene, and at least one great sight gag that implies some zombie action!
Reservoir Dogs receives a few nods too, (a razor-blade hidden in a boot, Madsen’s posing in a doorframe and mention of painful kneecap shootings), and there is an abundance (maybe too many?) of other film references from Blade Runner to Once Upon a Time in China
Yet despite what has gone before it, the ending is still reasonably satisfying (final pointless flashback to the pregnancy result aside). Expectations raised, The Bride confronts Bill, and we finally meet (and The Bride learns about) her daughter.
In fact it’s the presence of Perla Haney-Jardine as The Bride’s daughter B.B. that gives the film with most of its heart. As natural as Drew Barrymore in E.T., whether by playing gun-fights or telling tales of squashed fishes, she almost outshines every other actor in the film, and manages to provide a meaningful reason for The Bride’s quest.
Not quite a fumble on the scale of The Matrix then, but you just can’t help wishing Mr Tarantino had cut down on his excesses, shot some of his babies, and released one hyper-kinetic film that would have run between two and three hours.
Experiment tried, and yep, you did get your money from me twice, but don’t do it again ok, unless you’ve got something that matches The Lord of the Rings for sheer scale and storytelling.
Versions Expect there to be several versions of these two films heading your way. As well as the rumoured ‘cut-together’ package, Tarantino is also thinking of restoring some of the footage that was intended for the Japanese audiences, but left out from Western cinema screens.