This second installment of Tarantino’s Kill Bill series is good, but it feels like a bit of a letdown after the high octane volume one that preceded it.
Kill Bill picks up shortly after the end of the first film. The Bride (Uma Thurman) continues her quest for revenge against the people that destroyed her life, namely her former lover and employer, Bill (David Carradine). Also in her sights are Bill’s younger brother Bud (Michael Madsen) and one-eyed she-beast Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah). The Bride hunts these three down, while the audience gets some insight into her past and how she learned to be so badass.
I would have been really interested to see volume one and two of Kill Bill as one movie. It would have been really long, but I really struggle to see how you can top the amazingly energetic fight sequence from the first film when the Bride takes on O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) and her Yakuza thugs. It was the perfect end to part one, but if you were watching this film as originally intended, that sequence would be halfway through the film, and all that followed would not be anywhere near as entertaining.
There are still some cool moments in volume two though, the rumble in Bud’s caravan between the Bride and Elle is a great sequence. As is the moment when the Bride realises that her daughter is alive and well. Thurman’s scenes with David Carradine are really well done. You do feel like he is this father figure to her, and despite everything he has done, that relationship does still exist in her somewhere. This film wraps things up really nicely. The audience has been on this journey with the Bride and you get a sense of relief that she has done what she wanted to do and can now get on with her life. I hope I’m not spoiling anything here, the movie is called Kill Bill, what did you think was going to happen?
Kill Bill Volume 2 is still an entertaining film, but struggles to hit the highs achieved by the amazing first film.
I feel like I’m in the minority here, but I really do love Kill Bill: Vol. 2 more than the first. This is the less action packed half, more character and dialogue driven. However, it still manages to pack a punch and provide a satisfying conclusion to this epic two part film.
Vol. 2 picks up where we left off in the Bride’s quest for revenge. She’s crossed two names off her list, and is out to get the final three. Probably the best sequence in the film is when Beatrix, a.k.a. the Bride (Uma Thurman), fights her nemesis, Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah). Watching these two ladies cross swords is immensely entertaining, though less elegant than Beatrix’s showdown with O-Ren Ishii in Vol. 1.
In fact, this entire film is easily described as less elegant than its predecessor. Vol. 1 is artistic and epic in proportion. Beatrix fights her way through scores of henchmen in order to get to O-Ren, a sequence defined by dramatic lighting changes, black and white photography, and a final showdown set against pure white snow. But Vol. 2 is gritty and raw. It draws it’s inspiration from American Westerns, but also delves deeper into the main character’s psyche. Beatrix spends a huge portion of the film covered in dirt and grime and sweat. The entire movie feels like it’s all business– entertaining and bloody business.
While I loved the visuals presented in the first movie, this one does a much better job at highlighting the emotional aspects of the story. This makes it the stronger of the two, in my opinion. I mentioned before that Vol. 1 felt like it was more about O-Ren Ishii than Beatrix, but Vol. 2 rightly focuses on the heroine of the story.
While the climax of this film is quieter than the first, it’s still immensely satisfying. Beatrix and Bill have their final showdown, one that is more a meeting of the minds, devoid of bloody violence. These scenes really highlight Quentin Tarantino’s ability to write emotional and often touching dialogue. Some of his films are lacking in this aspect, but here he absolutely nails it.