Projections - Movie Reviews

Kill Bill: Vol. 2
Kill Bill
Starring Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine,
Michael Madsen, Darryl Hannah, Samuel L. Jackson

Quintin Tarantion’s fourth film, Kill Bill, was intended to be released in one theatrical run. But, after one sees Vol. 2, opening nearly six months after Vol. L, it makes sense that it was broken up like the last two Matrix movies. The first one had a flow to it with a hyper kinetic violence coming from the director’s affinity towards Chinese grind house cinema, a wonderful fusion of spaghetti westerns and sweeping samurai tales. Now, the continuation of “revenge is never a straight line” is vividly and thoughtfully realized with less bloody violence and more dialogue from a screenplay by Tarantino and lead actress Uma Thurman.

From Vol. I, the very lissome, capable Thurman started her roaring rampage of revenge as the Bride, a member of the DIVAS (DEADLY VIPER ASSASSINATION SQUAD) named after snakes. She was left for dead at her own wedding as a black and white sequence placed her at the mercy of the DIVAS’ head, Bill (David Carradine), not really seen. Vol. 2 chronicles the last five chapters starting with the massacre at the wedding chapel where Bo Svenson plays a preacher and Samuel L. Jackson is the organist.

A samurai sword made for the Bride (Black Mamba) or Beatrix, her other name, is important to the story, but not used as much as one may think. Tarantino relies less on action and more on insight into Beatrix and Bill (a somewhat lisping Carradine), especially in the first and last episodes, concluding south of the border, hitting the pressure points with a different climactic explosion from within than the director’s fans might have anticipated. Since the goal of Beatrix is clear form the title, she has to eliminate two more of the DIVAS before Bill. Many will like what happens in two chapters featuring Michael Madsen’s Budd, Bill’s brother, and Elle Driver, acted by Daryl Hanna with a patch over her right eye. Thurman shows much versatility in her battle for survival and her quest to render her foes helpless.

The aforementioned chapters are nicely tied together by one entitled “The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei” set in China. It has Pai Mei as the mercenary, mysogynistic bearded trainer who enables The Bride to punch through wood and do something much more potent in “Face to Face.” There’s some good interplay between Thurman and Gordon Liu as the harsh, sagely instructor who puts her through some grueling sessions as she meets his “eagle claw.” Yuen Wo-Ping’s expertise in fight choreography is on display in “Pai Mei” with one sequence having the master standing on The Bride’s priceless samurai sword.

The visual finesse of Tarantino continues with some striking contrast between resonant color compositions and black and white, sometimes used to emphasize the shock felt by The Bride. Kill Bill Vol. 2 goes for emotion from the back story of Beatrix and Bill and her decision to stop being a “natural born killer” once she was aware she was going to be a mother.

There’s a subtle power to the final encounter, well-modulated by Thurman, and especially Carradine, given Bill’s tremendous influence on this woman. A stylish throwback to cinematic yore isn’t as innovative as it is less edgy and more reflective. The result is cool, especially in musical selections, but in a long-winded approach that doesn’t entertain with the same visceral imagery when Vernita and O-Ren were first on the revenge list.

Kill Bill: Vol. 2

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