And that's the brilliance (or one facet of same) of Writer/ Director Quentin Tarantino! He can give us a title like Kill Bill where the demise of the final killee is a given, and we still can't look away for a single second to make sure we're seeing what we think we're seeing!
In Kill Bill Volume 2 Uma Thurman's uber-assassin continues her Revenge Swath though the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad with all the subtlety of Courtney Love on Letterman. Does she indeed Kill Bill or is the Title a Tarantino ruse? Man, you think I'm gonna tell you?
After a brief Recap for the benvefit of the four people who went to see this movie without watching the first half (ya poseurs ya), we're greeted again by the beautiful face of our Bride as she absolutely sweats menace on the road to stab city. Our gaps are filled in for us, from the fight scenes of the remaining hit-listees to the incredible training of the Bride (shot on grainy film stock like an old Kung Fu movie to separate it from the other chapters). It's not just a Hattori Hanzo Sword that makes Uma the Black Mamba! They even stop Bleeping our Protagonist's name after a while.
What follows takes us in and out of some of the most amazing danger and action that you could expect and gives us more violence than a Pol Pot documentary. At its core, though, Kill Bill Volume 2 is a Drama with more dialogue and quiet acting than the first installment. Quentin Tarantino once said that the test of a director is the ability to direct action, and he's proven that. Here he shows he can still write and direct the best talk scenes in the business. Some of this has to be seen to be believed, and again, even though we know (or think we know) what's going to happen, somehow Quentin manages to surprise us!
In fact, at times, it's this that makes the film so riveting. Anyone who's familiar with the first half knows what the Revenge is all about here. In Volume 2 there is a long and quiet stretch of time during which we are fully aware that something more evil than a Fox Executive Luncheon is going to happen, and we're baited. And we wait, and we wait, and the longer we wait the tenser we get until the mouse-trap springs. How many directors can handle that, man?
Make no mistake, though, as well acted and brilliantly directed this film is as a Drama, this is definitely an action film with Martial Arts, sword slinging and shooting not seen since the last Kill Bill film! It's a hell of a ride, and it can be as shocking and disturbing as the first film at times, but it's also the perfect blending of the many Genres it springs from.
The acting here is incredible! From Michael Madsen's sad cum psychotic eyes as Sidewinder, Budd to Daryl Hannah's one-eyed madness that makes Leatherface look like a Panda Beanie Baby! As mind-blowing as this California Mountain Snake is, I'm hoping we never see her again. She scares the Schlitz out of me, man! With Quentin Tarantino's somewhat casual relationship with Linear storytelling I can see an Elle Driver and Agent Sands clash in yet another Robert Rodriguez/ Quentin Tarantino crossover.
The silent yet violent Kung-Fu Master Sifu Pai Mei is one of those aspects of this film that has to be seen to be believed! He's not someone you'd want playing Santa Claus at the Y, but, like Tarantino himself, you have to respect the Skill! You saw Chia Hui "Gordon" Liu before in Kill Bill Volume 1 as one of the main, masked Crazy 88's, but he's as different here as 7-Up is to Irish Coffee!
Here David "Kerosene" Carradine simply dominates as our monster-heavy Bill! Though barely glimpsed in the first half, Carradine makes up for it here with some of his life's best acting. There isn't much but the moves of old Caine left in David's Sixty-Something bones, however, there's every bit of the pathos and emotion floating just under the surface of those murder-frozen eyes. Bill goes from Freddy Krueger to Mister Rogers in the Blink of an eye. And between Blinks, you believe it.
It's Uma Thurman who steals her own show, though, from the over-the-top and intentional camp to the Oscar-bait heart. Her martial Arts skills and her look with the Gun is as convincing as anything in The Matrix Revolutions, and her acting is the best of her career. As wave after wave of revelation and development change everything about our Heroin-Heroine except her quest we see as many faces of The Bride as we see of Lon Chaney! See her. She's incredible!
But is she successful? Does she get away with it? Does she kill everyone she sets out to Kill? Well, I'll say this and only this... every one of the DiVAS that does die, dies at the hands of a certain Black Mamba! And what about Bill? Does the Title come true? Are all the secrets revealed? I'm not revealing anything here, but there have been Volcanoes quieter than this answer! Don't put anything past Quentin Tarantino if your life depends on it. And with Uma out there... it might!
Four and One Half Stars out of Five for Kill Bill Volume 2! If there's any flaw in this film at all, it's not the shocks or the gritty send ups or even the blood or violence, it's that it still leaves you wanting more. While the first film's driving up of the old anticip... pation worked wonders in making Volume 2 a Success, Volume 2 still leaves you hoping for just a little Lagniappe for the road. It's a very satisfying picture and a complete success from the directing, to the music, to the great original score by Robert Rodriguez and The RZA. Again, you might not like what Quentin Tarantino has to say, but you have to respect the way he says it. And here he says: "Always leave the Audience Wanting More."
Gangway for Volume 3!
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 has now been reviewed by J.C. Maçek III who is now solely responsible for this site now for the Yellow and Black Jumpsuit he STILL can no longer fit in to!!!
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