Kill Bill: Volume 2 is the sequel to, arguably, the most violent movie ever made. Volume 1, Quentin Tarantino’s conception of the ultimate feminist film, was – at its core – a movie that could simply be defined as a spectacle of violence.
There wasn’t a scene in Volume 1 that wasn’t bathed in blood (most of the time excessively). The picture starred three women, making it Charlie’s Angels on an estrogen rampage.
The overwhelming brutality from Volume 1 makes Volume 2 somewhat of a sharp contrast.
But Tarantino exudes style. His pictures bust at the seams from his bottomless allusions to classic films and his willingness to try anything. There are a few scenes during Kill Bill: Volume 2 in which the top and bottom of the screen are split into two different shots, either employing Tarantino’s technique or a projector mishap. But it’s his eagerness to create something so crazily unusual, that most movie-watchers sit back and revel in the film’s references, and the out-and-out massacre that he had created.
The biggest criticism leftover from the first movie was its lack of story – it was a revenge flick in which Tarantino offered no explanations for what had occurred. The Bride’s wedding party was crashed, everyone was slaughtered and she wanted payback. It was as straightforward as that.
Volume 2 adds much-welcomed depth to the story line. The Bride (played as an emotionless killer convincingly by Uma Thurman), is back after dispatching two of her former cohorts during 1. This time Thurman’s sights are set on three more, Michael Madsen’s Budd, Daryl Hannah’s Elle, and David Carradine’s Bill.
The gore, body count and breakneck speed of the original are toned down to make room for what turns Volume 2 into a wild, implausible love story.
Tracking the Bride’s former and present life as we bounce back and forth between her training, her relationship with Bill, the present day settling of scores and all the reasoning that Tarantino left out of the first film – an oddly moving and much slower developing film comes to life.
The first subject of the Bride’s vengeance is Michael Madsen’s touching, over-the-hill assassin Budd. His affecting, soul-searching character is the first hint that this movie is aiming for more than the carnival of carnage from Volume 1. Scenes like Budd’s firing from his bouncing gig at a local strip club and his brief chitchat with his brother Bill about old vendettas, are chief points that would never have fit into the disorderly nature of Volume 1.
But not to disappoint fans of the first film, the Bride still has retaliation on the brain and a katana sword in tow as she hunts down her last three back-stabbing associates. And a trailer park battle between the Bride and Daryl Hannah’s Elle is just as brutal as anything from the previous film.
Kill Bill: Volume 2 is stolen by the terrific performance of David Carradine in the title role. His Bill is a charmingly complex villain, whose motives are never completely understood until it’s too late for salvation. The suddenly deep story calls for the Bride’s time to kill Bill.
Brian Mulligan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org