Kill Bill: Vol. 2 Review
By Joe Lozito
"Kill Bill: Vol. 2" is not a sequel as much as it is a continuation. When last we saw The Bride (Uma Thurman) - who, this time around gets a real (though completely ridiculous) name - she was continuing her bloody rampage of revenge leading up to the titular action, unaware that her four year-old child exists.
We pick up the story more or less exactly where we left off, but this time with an entirely different tone. Thankfully, gone are the cartoonish bloodbaths that comprised a majority of the first volume, replaced by Tarantino's unique sense of style, dialogue and character. Tarantino continues to steal from all his heroes, this time adding the Westerns of John Ford and Sergio Leone to his considerable arsenal. There are several classic setups and payoffs in the film, most of which don't require the viewing of "Vol. 1". Even the non-linear chapter structure has a wonderful payoff when we see the value of The Bride's training under the "cruel tutelage of Pai Mei" (Gordon Liu). The film's most satisfying scenes occur in this brief segment during which Tarantino lets loose every homage his can think of to the kung-fu theater of his youth. Certainly, if Tarantino had released "Kill Bill" as a four-plus hour marathon (which purists will no doubt be doing in the future), it would have been too much.
Like Clint Eastwood's Man With No Name character in the spaghetti westerns Tarantino emulates here, The Bride speaks few words, which is odd for a Tarantino character. For the most part she is reacting and driven to her singular goal. Thurman is up to the challenge, using her eyes and facial expressions to show The Bride's seething anger. The dialogue that does exist in the film, though, is definitely on par with what we've come to expect from Tarantino - a writer who, like David Mamet, has a sound all his own (Bill asks The Bride, "How's the J.O.B.?"; Budd, a surprisingly sympathetic Michael Madsen, remarks, after shooting The Bride with rock salt, "That gentled you up a bit, didn't it.").
Tarantino's m.o. is starting to show: he takes familiar moments and adds his own flavor. That's really what we want from a Tarantino movie - it's what he's best at. Here, unlike in "Vol. 1" or "Jackie Brown", he delivers. Not that those films we bad, they just didn't have the life that "Vol. 2" does. The final showdown between Bill and The Bride consists more of words and swords, perhaps proving that the pen is, indeed, mightier.
David Carradine, in one of those trademark Tarantino "comeback" roles, rules the film as Bill, a coiled snake of a man who you feel could strike at any moment. Carradine is a natural on screen. He convincingly creates a soulless man who has accepted that what he does best is murder. At the same time, Bill is a person. When The Bride finally confronts him and discovers the truth about her daughter, what follows may be the closest Tarantino has come to a family scene, and it's wonderful. He doesn't lose the characters or fall into the cutesy nonsense that plagued Kevin Smith in "Jersey Girl". Tarantino, for all his adolescent indulgences continues to mature as a writer.
Surprisingly, or maybe not, Tarantino doesn't tie up all his loose ends. He's made no secret of the fact that he plans to make a third volume some time in the future and he has plenty of material to work with although, I suppose, the title would be irrelevant at that point. The Tarantino style has been copied a thousand times over since "Pulp Fiction", what "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" proves is that he's still the master.