Kill Bill Vol. 2

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Rating: R

Starring:
Uma Thurman as The Bride (Black Mamba)
David Carradine as Bill
Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake)
Michael Madsen as Budd (Sidewinder)
Chia Hui Liu as Pai Mei
Samuel L. Jackson as The Organ Player
Caitlin Keats as Janeen
Chris Nelson as The Groom
LaTanya Richardson as L.F. O’Boyle
Bo Svenson as The Preacher
Quentin Tarantino as Pei Mei (voice)

Special Features:
Deleted scene: “Damoe”

Behind-the-scenes featurette

Film premiere footage including Chingon performance

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
DTS 5.1 Digital Surround Sound
French Language Track
Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 137 Minutes

Synopsis:
This is the second part of Kill Bill from writer / director Quentin Tarantino.

The Bride continues to exact her revenge on Bill and her former fellow DiVAS assassins. Next on her list is Budd, Bill’s brother. Now living alone in the desert working as a strip club bouncer, Budd is a shadow of his former self. Despite being rather pathetic, he is still able to catch The Bride off guard and put her in yet another perilous position. How will she escape? And when / if she does, will she be strong enough to face Elle Driver and still have her final showdown with Bill?

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is rated R for violence, language and brief drug use.

The Movie:
First off, you can’t watch Kill Bill Vol. 2 without having seen Vol. 1. The sequel picks up immediately where the first left off and you’ll be completely lost if you try to pick up in the middle of the story. But seeing as how the first film was so much fun, I don’t know why you’d miss it. In fact, I enjoyed Kill Bill Vol. 1 more than I did the sequel, but more on that later.

Uma Thurman continues to be excellent as The Bride. (Her real name is also finally revealed in this movie. I won’t spoil it here.) She kicks butt in an extraordinary way and her fight scenes are some of the best on the big screen these days. Her fight with the Crazy 88′s is a tough act to follow, but while her fights in Vol. 2 don’t measure up, they are still impressive. Uma shows a lot more emotion in this movie. She shows terror, anger, amusement, and even love. What’s really impressive is that even after all the build up of her hatred for Bill, there are a few moments towards the end where you think she might not kill him after all. That’s quite a feat to make audiences buy that considering how she’s come back from the brink of death on several occasions for nothing more than the opportunity to kill Bill.

That leads us to Bill himself, David Carradine. I’ll admit that I had written him off as yet another washed up actor from the 70′s. But like John Travolta did in Pulp Fiction, Carradine shows he still has quite a bit of life in him. He’s charming, funny, creepy, and scary all in the same performance. He makes you believe that The Bride could both love and hate his character at the same time. He has a lot of great lines in this movie, but as a comic fan I loved a speech he gave about Superman towards the end. You’ll just have to hear it for yourself, but it’s classic.

The rest of the cast is pretty good as well. Michael Madsen is good as Budd, Bill’s washed up brother. Budd is appropriately pathetic while still retaining the required sadistic streak to make you believe he could be a killer. Daryl Hannah continues her bizarre role as Elle Driver. She’s even more psycho in this movie and a trick she does with a snake is particularly twisted. Her final scene reminds me a lot of her character’s death in Blade Runner. Samuel Jackson even has a fun but brief cameo as an organ player at the wedding chapel.

Quentin Tarantino also does a good job of making audiences squirm in Kill Bill Vol. 2. He does this by playing on basic human fears. We see someone buried alive, someone else attacked by a snake, another person shot with a dart, while another with their eye plucked out. All these things will make you groan in disgust or squirm in your seat.

Unfortunately, Kill Bill Vol. 2 isn’t as much fun as Vol. 1. Simply put, it lacks what made the first film unique and exciting. The first film had a ton of action and the showstopping swordfights were the high point of the whole series. In Vol. 2 there is no major swordfight. In fact, there’s not even a big battle until almost an hour into the film. I can remember only three major fight scenes in the whole movie, and they were fairly brief.

This film is mostly full of character development. That’s not a bad thing at all, but I think it should have been mixed with a healthy dose of action. If you had merged Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 and deleted a number of the unnecessary scenes, you would have had a much more impressive movie. Splitting the film up was an excellent business move, but ultimately it hurt the overall story. It ends up that Vol. 1 has all the best action, while Vol. 2 has all the character drama. They end up being two different movies.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 also doesn’t have the heavy homages to old Kung Fu movies like Vol. 1 did. There are a couple of cheesy sound effects and a Kung Fu training sequence with The Bride and Pai Mei, but beyond that there aren’t as many throwbacks in this sequel. There’s no gushing blood in this film, either. And besides Bill being revealed, I thought the first film featured cooler characters with Lucy Liu as O-Ren Ishii, Chiaki Kuriyama as Go Go Yubari, and Vivica Fox as Vernita Green. There are no cool characters that stand out this time around. Vol. 1 had the cooler soundtrack of the two as well.

If you saw Kill Bill Vol. 1, then Kill Bill Vol. 2 is required viewing. However, I don’t think you’ll find it as unique a movie-going experience as its predecessor.

The Extras:
There are a minimal number of DVD extras included here. You can expect a DVD set (featuring Kill Bill 1 and 2) to come along later with more features. In the meantime, this is what you can expect:

Deleted scene: “Damoe” – In this deleted scene, Bill and The Bride are walking through a town when Bill is confronted by an old enemy named Damoe and his gang. Damoe is played by Michael Jai White (Spawn). The scene is very much an homage to the old cheesy 70′s kung fu flicks, complete with sound effects and bizarre poses. Bill quickly dispatches the goons before he takes on Damoe. The scene isn’t necessary to the plot, but it helps give more background to Bill and it establishes that he’s a tough dude.

Behind-the-scenes featurette – This is your typical “making of” feature. Quentin Tarantino talks about the film and how the sequel and its predecessor are so different. They talk about how the first was a kung fu flick while the sequel was more of a spaghetti Western. There are interviews with all of the cast members and all of the characters are highlighted. It’s also revealed that a couple of the actors play multiple characters in the movie. I challenge you to spot them while watching Kill Bill 2.

Film premiere footage including Chingon performance – Director Robert Rodriguez did the music for Kill Bill 2, and at the premiere of the film, he and his band “Chingon” played a couple of the songs from it. I’m amazed at how multi-talented Rodriguez is and his tunes are quite good. This is like a mini concert for him and his band. Anyway, it’s well worth checking out and it has a great multicultural sound.

The Bottom Line:
While Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a decent film, it doesn’t have what made Vol. 1 so much fun. It replaces action with more character drama.

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