Kill Bill Vol. 2

Written & Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Gordon Liu
My Advice: Don’t Miss It.

When we last left our heroine, The Bride (Thurman), she had opened up twin cans of whoopass on two of her former teammates, Vernita (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren (Lucy Liu). And who can blame her? These are two of the people that crashed her wedding by massacring everyone present and putting The Bride in a coma for four years. Now there’s two other former compatriots left…and Bill (Carradine). And well, you know what the title is.

The good news is that the second installment is a worthy ending to this two-parter. The three main villains, Bill, Elle (Hannah) and Budd (Madsen) are like a container of dangerous Neapolitan ice cream. Madsen plays redneck dangerous, Elle plays bitter, vengeful dangerous and Carradine goes for the quiet, zen-like, I-could-kill-your-ass-at-fifty-yards-with-a-credit-card deadly. They’re all very effective and believable. And they also make formidable enemies for our already kill-crazy Bride–which is a very good thing, since after The House of Blue Leaves, what could be worse? Well, there are answers to that, oh yes. As for Thurman, she’s still so perfect it hurts, showing off her acting chops in these two films like never before.

Also noteworthy are the sequences of The Bride’s training at the hands of the cruel master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Liu goes for sheer 70s kung fu goodness and nails it with every flip of his long beard–and Tarantino obliges by giving us the obligatory over-the-top speedy push-ins that had me laughing every single time one occurred.

Those expecting the same level of chop-sock and swordplay that we had in the first installment will be disappointed. There’s more drama here than fountains of blood–and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, this second part simply doesn’t stand up as well on its own like the first one did. And while it’s obvious that commerce dictated the who two-parter setup to begin with (have you checked Vol. 1’s box office lately), it’s a shame that the film is diminished by being spread out like this. Once it’s restored to being one film again, on DVD later this year, no doubt, then it’ll be a complete classic–but since it was released as two films I’m reviewing them as two films.

I think the main thing is: do you walk away satisfied? I think so. As an homage-laiden mash-up of western and kung fu–much like Carradine’s famous role, hmmm–the second volume is a treasure, but especially when stitched back on to its predecessor. If you can find a cinema showing a double feature, then take that over seeing this solo–but do see it.

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