It’s the Wood That Should Fear Your Hand, Not the Other Way Around
The inevitable followup to watching and reviewing Kill Bill is Kill Bill: Volume 2. When Fabio suggested Volume 1, it was simply implied that Volume 2 was part of the deal. And after watching the first movie, why wouldn’t you want to finish it up? But there’s a problem here: there’s a pretty drastic style change between Volume 1 and Volume 2. The people that really liked the first movie may not necessarily appreciate the changes that were made. Of course, the other possibility is that it’s equally good in it’s own right. Let’s see what happened in my review of Kill Bill: Volume 2, written and directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, Chris Nelson, Perla Haney-Jardine, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Michael Parks, Bo Svenson, Samuel L. Jackson, Larry Bishop, Sid Haig, and Helen Kim.
We start off back at the wedding rehearsal between The Bride (Uma Thurman) and her groom-to-be (Chris Nelson). The Bride’s former leader – and former lover – Bill (David Carradine) shows up and asks if he can sit on The Bride’s side of the church. The Bride is pretty trepidatious, but welcomes him to the ceremony. Unfortunately for her, Bill’s brought along the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad – O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) – who promptly kill up the place. Four years later, after awaking from a coma, The Bride sets off to get her revenge. She already killed O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green in the first movie, so now she sets her sights on Budd. But Budd is waiting for her, and shoots her in the chest with a shotgun blast full of rock salt, and then proceeds to bury her alive. A little trick she learned from her master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) helps her escape and allows her to go after Budd again, but Elle Driver beat her to the punch. Now The Bride can kill two snakes with one sword.
I found myself fairly bored by Volume 2, but I’m also well aware of the reason. I know that Tarantino’s movies tend to be really talkie, but after the excitement and swordplay of the first one, I went into the second one expecting something different. This is not to say that Volume 2 is a bad movie, but it’s certainly a different movie, and I didn’t really want it to be. The first movie was a sword fighting martial arts movie, and the second one was a slower paced spaghetti western. In the first movie, The Bride kills somewhere in the vicinity of 90 people. In part two, she kills two people. It would’ve been three but she, like the movie, was moving too slow to get it done before Elle did. It’s a bit of a harsh shock, but once you settle in to the movie, you get to liking it a little more. The story is still a pretty typical revenge movie, but without the over the top sword fighting, I had to find something else to be interested in. The dialogue was mostly Tarantino quality, so I paid attention to that instead. I didn’t really dig on the fightin’ words between Elle and The Bride right before they fought. Tarantino’s trend of having people sitting around and talking too much works at a table in a diner, but not so much right before two people kill each other. And when that fight was over in three seconds after they finally stopped talking, that was a bit of a bummer. The aftermath of the fight was pretty hilarious though. I liked the monologue Bill delivers about Superman because it’s clever and it’s something that I’ve never though of before, but it also had very little to do with the situation. It reminded me of the conversation about “Like a Virgin” from Reservoir Dogs. I also liked the conversation between The Bride and the assassin, when The Bride has just found out she was pregnant. Even though I still liked the movie, I felt it moved a little slow from the expectations I had going in. I liked the Pai Mei flashback scenes, but the rest of it was too talkie and not enough action for my taste.
I had no real complaints about the performances in this movie. Uma Thurman was still great, but the character of The Bride was not able to show her true badassness as well in this movie. David Carradine was also really good. I had mixed feelings about Michael Madsen’s character though. I enjoyed the fact that Budd seemed to be the only one in the group that realized they deserved what The Bride was going to bring to them. Doesn’t mean he intended to just let it happen though. Problem with that part of it is that, when the time came, he decided to protect himself like a Bond villain. The movie would’ve been over in the first 10 minutes if he had buckshot in his shotgun instead of rock salt. And then he had to put the hero of the movie in a dangerous and difficult, but ultimately escapable situation. If he had performed the coup-de-grace with a rock as he had suggested … well … he’d still be dead because The Bride didn’t kill him, but The Bride would’ve been dead. Also, kudos to Madsen for burying The Bride in my hometown of Barstow. I’ve always thought that place was only good for burying people alive in.
Ultimately, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a really good movie that’s hindered by the expectations it’s predecessor set for me. The first movie was exciting and spectacular, and the second movie was more low key and talkie. Still good, but The Bride needed to get her sword wet a little to satisfy me. I still recommend the movie though, especially since you need it to see the conclusion to the movie I recommended you buy yesterday. I have this movie on Blu-Ray as well. Kill Bill: Volume 2 gets “You’re a natural born killer” out of “Bitch, you don’t have a future.”
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