Kill Bill: Volume 2

After the violent adventure that was Kill Bill: Volume 1 the second part of the story arrives and takes a different slant on things – for a start the visual body count is in single figures and the general feel of the film is less fanatic.

For those that need a recap – The Bride (Uma Thurman) has already killed two of the four former colleagues who left her for dead at her wedding rehearsal and cut a swathe through a Yakuza gang, the Crazy 88.

Also on her death list are the other two, Budd (Michael Madsen) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) as well as the man behind it all, the hitherto unseen Bill (David Carradine). The film opens with the Bride driving towards Bill’s home during which she narrates how she got to where she is.

After returning from Japan she tangled with the formidable Budd, brother of Bill. Budd has turned his back on his former life and works as a bouncer in a seedy strip joint in Mexico. Now somewhat a wash-up and sorry guy, Budd understands why the Bride is coming for him. However, understanding is one thing but Budd isn’t about to let some one saunter up and kill him – washed up or not, he’s still Bill brother and somewhat of a force to be reckoned with.

After facing Budd and narrowly escaping with her life, the Bride meets Elle again and there is no love lost between the pair, so its an all out battle – no formalities just brutality.

Obviously the Bride manages to best the two former colleagues (the title of the film tends to give that away) and we return to the Bride driving down to Bill’s house where she must face her old mentor – unfortunately she never watched the first film or she would have realised that her daughter is still alive and living with her daddy…Bill.

As with many Tarantino’s film his ideas are plagiarised (or homaged as he calls them) from countless obscure films and both Kill Bill films are no exception. Kill Bill: Volume 1 concentrated on kung fu action and Kill Bill: Volume 2 has much more of a Western feel to it. Fans of Hong Kong chop-socky films of the 70’s will probably cream in their cheese over the numerous references from various Shaw Brothers titles - predominantly during the brutal training sequence where the Bride learns martial arts from Master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Fortunately Tarantino decided to stay behind the camera and dropped the idea of playing the kung fu grand master Pai Mei himself.

There is a lot more dialogue in the second part but much of it feels almost forced as characters speak with an elevated attempt at making everything sound cool. Unfortunately the writing isn’t nearly as retro-cool as say Pulp Fiction or even Reservoir Dogs with a minimal amount of memorable dialogue. There are a few too many monologue that meandered and distracted from the feel of the film with Bill being the main culprit of stories about this and that (his ‘superman’ theory just felt like the forced work of a geek-boy fan).

Kill Bill: Volume 2 has more than its fair share of ridiculous situations with one of the worse having a trained assassin change her mind about a mark who has seen her face just because she claims to be pregnant – surely it wasn’t her first day on the job?

Bill Carradine manages to wipe the floor with his performance and manages to show how weak the rest of the cast really are. His Zen hipster coolness steals every scene shows the limitations of Uma Thurman as an actress. Where as in the first film she was good as a cold-blooded killer out for revenge, scowling and rampaging her way across the world, but faced with her child for the first time and her inherent blankness is difficult to mask.

Also disappointing is Michael Madsen who was built up as Bill brother; a character so bad that the memory of Mr Blonde would be erased forever. However, his character of Budd doesn’t put Mr Blonde to shame at all and in fact seems a bit of a pussy in comparison.

On the whole, after the heights of lunacy and mayhem of Kill Bill: Volume 1, the second film doesn’t quite deliver to the same extent. As two films the pacing is wrong and the decision to split the films comes across as a gimmick to increase ticket sales rather than one to benefit the movie. This half seems to have a lot more ‘filling’ added to it and almost appears that Tarantino ran out of steam.

Score 6/10

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