"Kill Bill: Vol. 2" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
In the final moments of Quentin Tarantino's 4th film, "Kill Bill: Vol. 1", we find out that The Bride's unborn child actually did survive the gunshot blast her mother suffered at her wedding. It's a major cliffhanger which then dives into the second half of this major film, which picks up almost right after the death of O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), and The Bride is on the hunt to find the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. If the first volume of this film was consisted mostly of graphic murders and is a huge gore-fest, then the second part is focused mainly on the story and the progression of character development.
This film serves more as a continuation of the first film, rather than a sequel. It doesn't feel like a sequel, but rather we're resuming a film after pausing it. Tarantino himself has said that this movie doesn't count as a fifth film but rather the second half of his fourth film. I think that the best way to watch this film is in a double feature with part 1, so you can be fully immersed in this massive world Tarantino has crafted.
The first movie shows The Bride (Uma Thurman) wake up from her coma and go after two of the assassins that ruined her wedding and killed the people she loved - Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii. The first volume is jam-packed with ultra-violent fight sequences and just a bad-ass character trying to get revenge. She succeeds on her mission to kill these two, and is ready to go after the other members that Bill (David Carradine) assembled.
This is where "Kill Bill: Vol. 2" opens. The opening scenes show The Bride, whose name we find out to be Beatrix Kiddo, is driving in the car, talking to the camera in a fourth-wall break to inform the audience that she is now on her way to Bill's house, where she will kill him and finally get her revenge. We then flash back to events after she killed Vernita Green, where she is on the way to kill Bill's brother, Bud (Michael Madsen) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) before going after her former lover and boss. What ensues is her fight to survive as they are much smarter and stronger than she was expecting.
This movie is around 30 minutes longer than the first volume, and this is mainly due to the dialogue-heavy screenplay, which is able to show more character development than its predecessor. Like mentioned, if the first movie was more focused on the violence and the samurai-aesthetic of the old Japanese films, then this movie takes some of that traditional Tarantino-esque dialogue and uses it to show how the characters have changed and why they did some of the reasons they did.
Consider the character of Bill. There's no doubt about it that he's absolutely nuts and manic, but from the way Carradine delivers his dialogue, as well as the subject matter he talks about, you feel for the guy. You understand why he was scorned by Kiddo and did what he did. Many antagonists like him do the things they do in film just for the sake of doing them, but it seems like Bill has a reason for the things he did and the way he felt. Carradine gives an absolutely fantastic performance in this film, and I truly wish we would have seen more of him in the first movie.
In addition to him, we also see beautiful character development for both Bud and Kiddo. Bud is shown as being a white-trash redneck after the wedding four years ago, but we start to learn why he had this downhill fall from the ranks of being a skilled assassin to living in a trailer in the middle of nowhere. At the same time, Kiddo has more revealed about her though flashbacks and dialogue-driven scenes. We didn't know too much about the protagonist in the first installment, but we still rooted for her nonetheless. However, when we start to learn more about her and her life before the start of this duology, we want her to succeed way more than we did in the first film.
One of my favorite parts of this movie is the training sequences we see when Beatrix goes to train under Pai-Mei (Gordon Liu). This is perhaps some of the most famous scenes and imagery in Tarantino's films, with the samurai legend jumping on top of Kiddo's sword. But this is a beautiful progression of how Kiddo adopts the skills she has and is present throughout her mission to kill the two members in volume 1. Tarantino takes inspiration heavily from the old Samurai films, from the action and training sequences to even the color grade he uses for these particular scenes. It shows how Tarantino is very knowledgeable about this art form, and how much he appreciates the films he saw growing up.
The action sequences, even though they are more scarce than those in the first film, are still great. From the sequence where Kiddo fights Elle in Bud's trailer to the short, yet intense, fight sequence between her and Bill in the final minutes of the movie, they are very entertaining and hold the viewer's attention throughout the entire fight. Now, many have considered this movie to be a major let-down compared to the action-packed predecessor, which I can totally see why and respect their opinions on this. However, I think that this movie allows the action to sit on the back burner and let the story and characters take full control of this two and a half hour journey.
Now, there is one scene that completely changes how the viewer sees the characters of Bill and Kiddo, and that is when she barges into Bill's house with her gun drawn. We then see Bill, but also their long-lost daughter, B.B. (Perla Haney-Jardine). From their interactions, it completely changes the course of this movie, and Jardine gives a fantastic performance as just being a little kid. Because it's a child present in the scene, you see a difference in the two main characters. You see how they could have been great parents together (in a serial killer/assassin type of way) if things have been different. But the way Tarantino writes and directs this final segment of the movie is absolutely beautiful and I applaud him for everything he did here.
This is, without a doubt, a great duology for Tarantino to make. In looking at this in one huge film with Vol. 1, I think he is able to craft this long, yet fulfilling journey through all of these different settings and all these different types of people. He is able to take the viewer and transport them to this place that he is usually known for taking them there, and I think this movie is perfectly able to do that to an extreme degree.