Kill Bill, Vol. 2 |
directed by Quentin Tarantino
Now really, Quentin, we all wanted to know at the end of Volume I what the flap was all about -- but you really mean to tell us all this blood and gore all over the floor was because the ole green-eyed monster reared its ugly head? Bill got jealous when his Bride dumped him for another guy? How mundane can you get? Well, I guess it's as good a reason as any, but why did Bill have to take out the whole wedding party? Talk about overkill....
OK, I have a problem with the underlying motives, but Kill Bill 2 is as stylish as its predecessor, without all the carnage. Kill Bill 1 was, after all, the epitome of overkill, and Kill Bill 2 finishes the job up nicely, but with considerably less of the blood and gore that liberally splashed the screen in the first movie. This time around we not only get to meet the nefarious Bill, we also find out the name of the Bride. Beatrix Kiddo?? Is this Tarantino's way of telling us not to take the whole thing too seriously?
Having drilled Vernita Green through with a bowie knife and sliced off the top of O-Ren Ishii's head with her Hattori Hanzo sword, the Bride returns home to finish off the remaining members of the death squad that almost did her in four years earlier: Bill's brother Budd, Elle Driver and the big guy himself. "I'm the man," Bill tells her when he finds her in the wedding chapel about to be married to a man who isn't him. And he's not about to let any woman dump him for somebody else, least of all when she's carrying his baby.
The hunt for her prey won't be so easy this time around; brother Budd has a surprise in store for the Bride that leaves her stunned and helpless, six feet under the ground. But the training she's had under the sadistic Chinese kung-fu master Pai Mei stands her in good stead; she's not going gently into any good night. We know she's going to get revenge on Budd and Elle Driver just as she did on Vernita Green and O-Ren, and predictably, she does. But there's less blood and gore for its own sake this time around; Tarantino's more inventive in bumping off the bad guys. In an inspired plot twist, Budd comes face to face with a real black mamba, and there is something deliciously satisfying about the final fate of Elle Driver. And as for the Man, the Bride unleashes the ultimate weapon taught to her by Pai Mei, who must have really liked her -- he didn't teach this move to anyone else, not even to Bill.
The big problem in this film is the final scene, showing the Bride reunited with her offspring; somehow it doesn't jibe with the rest of the movie. It's hard to reconcile the image of the Bride as a doting mommy beside that of an obsessed killing machine. After years as a member of Bill's death squad, and months of killing off the death squad and everybody else who got in her way along the route that leads to her final confrontation with Bill, one wonders if the Bride, once the novelty of motherhood wears off, won't get monumentally bored when she finds herself stuck in the mommy track.
The cast is fine all around. Uma Thurman repeats her excellent performance as the Bride; David Carradine makes a predictably revolting Bill, and Daryl Hannah is particularly effective as the diabolical Elle Driver, but the movie is stolen by Liu Cha Hui as the Bride's sadistic tutor Pai Mei; the sequence which shows the Bride's training under this spellbinding maniac is easily the best thing in the film.
Kill Bill 2 wraps up the story in a neat package, and if it's hardly believable, so what? The films were never about substance, although Kill Bill 2 has more than the first movie; they were all about style, and on that basis they more than hold their own. Like its predecessor, Kill Bill 2 doesn't measure up to Pulp Fiction, Tarantino's masterpiece, but it's great fun in its own right.
by Judy Lind