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KILL BILL volume 2 (2004)
The Bride's quest of murder and revenge continues with three names left on her list of Death. Budd, Elle Driver and then BILL. If Kill Bill Volume One was the question, then Kill Bill volume two is the answer. Don't watch the answer without knowing the question.
Directed by: Quentin Tarantino.
Tagline: Revenge is a dish best served cold.
A common misconception many have about volume 2 is it is merely a sequel or a continuation of volume one. While volume two does continue the story first introduced in the first volume, it does so in a different style. Quentin Tarantino describes the two films as thus " Volume One sets up the mythology, in volume 2 you already have the set up, so in volume 2 you get to know the characters." While Volume One is a very visual film with continuous action, volume two has more dialogue and character development broken up with brief moments of intense action. And as in his other films, Tarantino lightens the mood with his dark yet witty humor.
The musical score was composer by director Robert Rodriguez (Desperado, Spy Kids) and The RZA (who scored Volume One). It is said Rodriguez composed the score in exchange for Tarantino directing a portion of Rodriguez's film, Sin City (2005).
Tarantino continues to pay homage to the beloved film genres of his childhood and the result here is one of half Italian western and half period martial arts picture. The majority of the film takes place in the desert outside of El Paso, and there are so many shots borrowed from the old spaghetti westerns, one half expects The Bride to come riding up on a horse. Micheal Parks (the Sheriff) and Gordon Liu (Johnny Mo) are back in Volume 2 but as different characters. Parks is unrecognizable as Bill's first father figure, the Mexican pimp Esteban Viahalo.
"Chapter 8: The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei" is one of the highlights of the film and my favorite part. While trapped, The Bride flashes back to her kung fu training from the deadly Pai Mei. Gordon Liu (who played Johnny Mo, one of the crazy 88 in Volume One) is back in volume two as Pai Mei, a legendary villain in Kung Fu lore. Gordon Lui is a mainstay in the legendary Shaw Brothers studio which has been responsible from some of the greatest Kung Fu movies of all time. Liu has been practicing martial arts since age seven when he starting training with the master Lau Charn in Hong Kong. He has appeared in such Kung Fu films such as The Master Killer ( The 36th chamber of Shaolin) and Shaolin challenges Ninja. Liu is charming as the cruel but extremely talented Pai Mei and his interaction with The Bride are the most entertaining. Perhaps what makes this character so likable is his constant fastidious appearance and the haughty beard toss he does whenever The Bride disgusts him.
Another great moment in the film, is the showdown between the two rivals, The Bride and Elle Driver (played by Daryl Hannah). The fight (both the verbal and the physical) between the two blond amazons in a cramped trailer is beautifully choreographed.
Micheal Madsen is reunited with Tarantino for the first time since Reservoir Dogs (where he was the sadistic Mr. Blonde) in the Kill Bill movies. His character, Budd (who is Bill's younger brother and a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), is perhaps the most complex of the group. We find him in volume two residing in dilapidated trailer in the desert outside El Paso, out of shape, and working as a bouncer at a nudie bar, his Hattori Hanzo sword pawned long ago. While he seems to be The Bride's weakest adversary, looks can be deceiving.
Uma Thurman's career defining performance as The Bride really makes the film. Since it is revealed at the end of Volume one that her daughter is still alive, there is an air of suspense hovering through volume 2 as the audience waits for that bomb shell to drop on her. Thurman truly owns her character and continues to impress not only with her acting but with her ability to convincingly speak several languages and fight alongside martial arts masters such as Gordon Liu. Liu said of Uma "I was impressed by her spirit. Some people in her place would have let a bad take go by… but she didn't".
The mysterious Bill, played by 70s Television star David Carradine, is finally revealed in volume 2. He is best known for his role as Kwai Chang Caine on Kung Fu. Carradine considers his role as Bill to be the highlight of his career. Carradine adds a sort of nobility to a character the audience has learned to hate and despise in volume one. It is apparent from the moment we meet Bill in the poignant flute scene, he is no shallow two dimensional character. The chemistry between Bill and the Bride is excellent in the way that the audience can never be sure how either one is going to act.
In Kill Bill volume two, Tarantino continues to explore the hearts and minds f truly violent people. No one in this film could be considered a good person, they are all killers, including the Bride. Therefore the film is filled with violence, gore and strong language and it's great. If you enjoyed, Tarantino's other films, you will love Kill Bill Volume Two.
Uma Thurman: The Bride aka Black Mamba
Great quotes: "I've never been nice in my whole life but I'll try to be sweet." - Bill
"That woman deserves her revenge and we deserve to die… but then again so does she." - Budd