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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)
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.
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.
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.
What Didn't Work:
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.
The Bottom Line:
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.