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:: Kill Bill Vol.2

This is it, Volume 2 of Quentin Tarantino’s crazy, blood-drenched revenge saga, Kill Bill. If ever a film came to theatres awash in high expectations, this is it. Vol. 1 was filled with gore and smirks, but it really was only half a film. “Kill Bill Vol. 1 isn't entirely successful as one film. It needs its second half.”
It’s clear from the start that Tarantino is going for a different tone in Vol. 2. The pace is more languid, and the dialogue is drawn out for effect. The movie is more wide-open desertscapes than the tight interiors of Vol. 1.

However, the excitement and enthusiasm generated by Vol. 1’s thrilling, bloody sense of purpose started to wane as each long minute of Vol.2 played out. As the extended final sequence rolled at the end of Vol. 2, one could sense that Tarantino’s attempts to go western just aren’t as successful. As much fun as many of its individual scenes are, Kill Bill Vol. 2 becomes a victim of that fateful decision to cut this saga in half. Was it worth it?

In Vol. 1, he exhibited masterful control of his all-over-the-map subject matter, indulging himself, but reigning in those myriad influences and delivering a tightly wound blast of fun. But in Vol.2 Tarantino gives in far more to his indulgences, forgoing the precise editing of the first film and - because he has so much extra running time to use - losing his senses of rhythm and cinematic marksmanship.

A singular Kill Bill film would have reigned in Tarantino’s decadent tendencies. Kill Bill Vol 2 certainly has its moments—a bevy of them. As we know from Vol. 1, the blood-spattered Bride (Uma Thurman) has exacted her furious revenge on two members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox). She’s on her way to visit her remaining wrath on her other former partners, Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and—yes, we finally meet him face-to-face—the eponymous Bill (David Carradine). You already know the rumours of how this brutal squad left her for dead on the eve of her wedding in an El Paso chapel, and in the stark opening of Vol. 2, we experience the gory day in flashback, and the scene is set for the Bride's “raging rampage of revenge” to conclude.

The most satisfying extended sequence of Volume 2 occurs just after its first act, following the Bride's first confrontation with Budd. Tarantino masterfully choreographs a series of events that take the bride underground - in a protracted scene of mounting, claustrophobic horror - to the Far East, where she undergoes the cruel tutelage of Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), and back again to face her blonde nemesis, Elle Driver. This half hour of screen time is immensely satisfying and almost redeems the film. But there's about ninety slack minutes surrounding these thrilling moments, footage that flows at you just begging for the studied hand of a competent editor.

The ending of Kill Bill Vol. 2 is particularly unsatisfying, not only because it promises a gorgeous moonlight Hatori Hanzo sabre duel and never delivers it, but mostly because it's remarkably empty. The actors seem suddenly awkward behind their characters, particularly Bill, who speaks big paragraphs of dialog that have all the resonance of scribbled cocktail-napkin notes.

The truth, however, is that Kill Bill as a whole is a remarkable achievement, and one doesn’t want to take a lot away from that. It is worth saying, though, that Tarantino is at his best when exercising some degree of restraint. I would still recommend Kill Bill Volume 2, with reservations.

DVD Extras

- 26-minute featurette ‘The Making Of Kill Bill Vol.2

- Interviews with Quentin Tarantino, several actors, composer Robert Rodriguez, and producer Lawrence Bender.

- A 12-minute CHINGON Performance From the Kill Bill Vol. 2 Premiere is a lively look at a live performance by Robert Rodriguez, who, with CHINGON, performs a few of his themes/songs from the film.

- A four-minute Deleted Scene involving Bill and The Bride