Bill: Volume 2.
Miramax Films presents a film directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Written by Tarantino and Uma Thurman. Running time: 136
minutes. Rated R (for violence, language and brief drug
use). Starring Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah,
Michael Madsen, Gordon Liu, Lucy Liu, Vivica A. Fox, Quentin
Bill: Volume 2
Miramax decided to split Quentin Tarantino's epic Kill
Bill into two halves I was angry. I thought it was clearly
about making more money, forcing people to pay twice to see
what should have been essentially one movie. Kill
Bill: Volume 1 was great, exhilerating cinema, but
it felt unfinished. I walked out more than satisfied, by I
also wished the film hadn't been split. Waiting until February
to see the rest seemed rediculous. Then Volume 2's
release date was delayed until April, to coincide with Volume
1's DVD release. That really pissed me off.
now I've seen Volume 2, and it's just wonderful. Out
is the over-the-top violence that defined Volume 1,
and in is a new thing for Tarantino: real, overwhelming emotion.
Not only that, but I'm not even sure how the two parts would
have been combined. I'm sure Tarantino could have done it,
and the inevitable 3 1/2 hour Director's Cut DVD can't come
soon enough, but Volume 1 and 2 are so tonally
different that splicing them directly together would be difficult.
Just watch each one back-to-back, as different films making
one whole: there's your masterpiece, a film to stack up against
Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.
this is not a review of Kill Bill; it's a review of
Volume 2. The four stars under the name up there aren't
for the series, but for this installment alone. And believe
me, it earns it. Volume 2 stands on its own terms as
a great achievement for everyone involved. I really want to
see it again.
kicks off with the Bride (Uma Thurman) explaining the events
of Volume 1. The Bride has already finished off two
of her targets, Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii
(Lucy Liu), and is on her way to finish off the other three:
Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and, finally,
Bill (David Carradine). About fifty percent of the film progresses
chronologically, as the Bride slowly works her way to Bill.
The rest of the film is shown in flashbacks; we see the massacre
at the wedding chapel, the Bride's training at the hands of
brutal kung-fu master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu, voiced by Tarantino).
The purpose of these scenes are to fill out the characters,
and they all work.
the Bride finally meets Bill, Volume 2 reaches a kind
of emotional transcendence that I never would have expected
from Tarantino. The Bride bursts into Bill's house only to
find her daughter (not a spoiler - this is given away at the
end of Volume 1) awaiting her. The scenes between Bill
and the Bride are beautifully written and played, giving away
previously unimagined facets of each character's personalities.
Their final conversation has a sort of beautiful lyricism
that caught me completely by surprise. Despite Bill's utter
amorality, these scenes develop him as such that his inevitable
demise is actually kind of bittersweet. The final thirty minutes
of the film are absolutely, unbelievably perfect; how many
movies can elicit emotion from a single title card, or the
Thurman, so good in Volume 1, has reached a new career
high here. She combines the amazing physical prowess from
the first volume with real emotional depth. She never misses
a beat in making us care about her character. Handily matching
her step for step is David Carradine, who should be nominated
for an Oscar. Carradine, a famous B-movie actor, gives an
amazing performance that should revitalize his career the
way Pulp Fiction revitalized John Travolta's. He creates
a real human being rather than a straight-forward villain
that we can't wait to see die. The rest of the cast is good
as well; Michael Madsen is his usual laid-back self; Daryl
Hannah plays against type as a heartless killer; and Gordon
Liu, a famous Chinese actor, gets some great physical humor.
Bill: Volume 2
is everything we have come to expect from Tarantino. It's
violent, it makes us laugh, it puts us in awe of his knack
for dialogue (Bill's Superman speech is a highlight). But
it is also something else entirely. It does something no one
would think a Tarantino film would: it makes us cry.
2004 Matt Noller