The second half to Quentin Tarantino’s
wildly entertaining Kill Bill: Volume 1 is
out. The movie picks up more or less where the last
one left off, with the Bride (Thurman) continuing
on her quest to—as the title would suggest—Kill
Bill (Carradine), and his two henchmen Sidewinder
(Madsen) and California Mountain Snake (Hannah.
The character and the quest remain the same, but
stylistically this movie is very different from
its predecessor. Gone are the themes of honor and
revenge, and redemption is in… sort of.
If Volume 1 was a samurai movie then Volume
2 is a spaghetti western.
Regrettably it would appear that all the good parts
were put into the first movie. Volume 2 does
not contain nearly as much violence as the first;
it only has one real fight scene to its credit.
The fight between California Mountain Snake and
The Bride was vicious, but nowhere near as spectacular
as any of those featured in Volume 1. The
rest of the time the bride seems to be content merely
talking her enemies to death. Even the music in
Volume 1 was superior.
Now taking place mostly within the United States,
and Texas in particular, all the villains have guns.
Yet The Bride seems hell-bent on using antiquated
methods to exact vengeance. Setting the first half
in Japan was a stroke of genius for staging swordfights—especially
in Tarantino’s magical, otherworldly Japan,
where everyone has swords, even on airplanes. The
movie reveals that The Bride has knowledge of firearms
so why isn’t she using them now that they
are readily available? Only Tarantino will ever
know. This problem prevents many cool sequences
because she keeps bringing a sword to a gunfight.
Having only heard Bill’s voice in the last
movie it would have been nice to get more back-story
on him so we know what set this whole terrible wheel
of violence into motion. David Carradine’s
Bill is cool and charismatic, but ultimately he
is an enigma leaving one to suspect that the coolness
and charisma are properties of any David Carridine
character. Another sequence like the one detailing
O-ren Ishii’s past would have been much appreciated.
Instead Tarantino offers a pointless flashback revealing
the specifics of The Bride’s martial arts
training. Since by this point it is accepted as
common knowledge that The Bride is a kung fu master,
the scene only serves to make the movie drag on
even further. The final confrontation between The
Bride and Bill gives new definition to the word
The first mistake is even bothering to remind the
audience of the story. The opening scene is essentially
the movie trailer where The Bride talks into the
camera, even going so far as to mention the critics’
responses to the first movie. Throughout the entire
movie, the camera is obviously having a love affair
with Ms. Thurman; she is in every scene and in almost
every shot. Tarantino uses a variety of visual tricks
to keep the film interesting. Some parts are in
black-and-white or the color is purposefully washed
out, but this can’t distract from the tedium
of the film.
Tarantino fills the movie with dialogue and his
chatter can often be entertaining, but in this case
it just isn’t enough to sustain the film.
Kill Bill: Volume 2 just doesn’t have
enough action or character development or, well,
entertainment to justify itself. Volume 2,
much more than the first movie, could not stand
on its own as a complete work. When stood up next
to the first, it only further reveals its inadequacy.
If this were the first movie no one would be lining
up to see Volume 2, so I guess it’s
a pleasant surprise for movie watchers that Tarantino
was generous enough to package all the good parts
into the first movie and spare them the boredom
of the second.