A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Kill Bill: Volume Two

May 23, 2011

Kill Bill: Volume II

I’ve only just finished writing my somewhat tardy review for Volume One of the Kill Bill movies and now I have to start in on a whole ‘nother Kill Bill review. I remember thinking when I saw this movie in the theater that it was not as good as the first movie. It’s more cerebral. More talky and plotty. It has huge giant swaths of pithy dialog (a Tarantino specialty) but not the same level of awesomely choreographed fight scenes. Watching it back to back with the first movie helps though. They were conceived to be a single lengthy picture after all, so it makes sense that they work better together as a unit than individually on their own.

This is a movie that has to answer questions from the first half and tie up plot threads. There are questions that don’t particularly need answering, such as what is the Bride’s name which has been bleeped out up until now. (It’s Beatrix Kiddo by the way, and I honestly can’t think of any reason that I should care.) It resolves the mystery of what happened to Elle Driver’s missing eye. Most importantly it answers the question of why Beatrix left the Vipers (because she wanted to raise her unborn child outside the influence of her lover and handler Bill) and why Bill turned around and slaughtered her and her entire new life (he admits he over-reacted.)

I’m very much of two minds regarding this movie. There are parts of the movie I really enjoy. Everything having to do with Pai Mei – the Bride’s Chinese kung-fu master. He’s ornery and cranky and clearly a kung-fu legend. He has a long beard, bushy eyebrows and a big white top-knot. He laughs a lot. There’s the entire training montage, which is fantastic. There are the wild zooms in to Pai Mei’s cackling visage that feel so very authentic to the source material. (I particularly grinned at the zoom that leaves him all blurry until the focus pull brings him back.)

Michael Madsen as Bill’s down-on-his-luck brother is fantastic. You get the impression that his self-imposed exile and the crappy life he’s living is his penance for the part he played in Beatrix’s betrayal. Then he turns around and shoots her in the chest and buries her alive, so maybe he’s not too sympathetic after all. I’m just not sure what I’m supposed to think. It’s a great role for Madsen though – even if half the time I thought he looked more like Micky Rourke than like himself.

Daryl Hannah is wonderfully evil as Elle Driver. She’s just to malevolent and menacing. She’s the most heartless of all possible killers, which makes her a great foil for the Bride. It’s also great to see her get her comeuppance.

But this movie is mostly about Bill and Beatrix and B.B. The resolution of their collective plot threads is not an over-the-top super action extravaganza. It is a series of scenes with people talking at each-other. We get to see Bill finding Beatrix in the church in Texas where he first tried to kill her. We get a fairy store from Bill about Pai Mei before Beatrix goes to train with him. Bill soliloquises about learning about death, about the nature of Superman, about feeling betrayed. It should be some indication of just how talky this movie gets that a big action plot point is when Bill shoots Beatrix with a dart filled with truth serum. You thought there was going to be a shoot-out? Nope! More talking!

I do enjoy Tarantino’s pop culture dialog style in small doses. The Superman speech for example is a nice one even if it does sound more like Kevin Smith than Quentin Tarantino. It just doesn’t seem to fit the expectations set by the first movie. I wanted gallons of blood and hundreds killed. This movie (or half of the movie depending on how you view such things) is just so slow and deliberate in comparison.

One thing this movie has going for it, though, is Uma Thurman. Her performance in this movie is simply awesome. She gets to be the unstoppable killing machine, which is great. She also gets to be the mother reunited with the daughter she thought she has lost, though, and that role is such a powerful one. I am only willing to sit through David Carradine’s constant monologues because the powerful emotions that play out on Uma’s face as she reconciles her need to fulfil the title of the movie with her still existent love for the father of her child. (Well and because Carradine is fucking Kwai Chang Caine and Frankenstein – the guy could read the phone book and make it sound spiritual and sinister.)

I’ve watched both movies back to back now and I have to say that although I like the first a lot more, because it is full of light hearted action and awesome fight scenes, the second one has its place as well. I’d very much like to see the two edited together in some fashion that spreads the adrenal rush of the action a little better, but I’m happy with the product as it currently exists. I think I need a small break from Tarantino now before we embark on Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs or Inglourious Basterds. It’s very much possible to overdose.

May 23, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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