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Kill Bill: Vol. 2

Kill Bill Vol. 2

Quentin Tarantino

The second installment of the Kill Bill series, writen and directed by Quentin Tarantino, is quite a departure from the first chapter. While we were treated to a slick, fast paced action/adventure film in Volume 1, Tarantino slows it down this time, expanding on character and adding many more levels of depth to the concepts put forth in the series. Some fans of the first film may be put off if they arrive at the theatre expecting more of what the first film had to offer, and will find the second film quite a different, if not just as enjoyable, animal altogether.

The first immediately noticeable difference is the pacing. Kill Bill Volume 2 insidiously creeps along, immersing the viewer in a quagmire of deliberate dialogue, for most of the first hour, really digging into the under soil of the characters that managed to survive the initial onslaught of The Bride. Bill, who had been just but a faceless voice off-screen in the first film, reveals his countenance at the beginning of Volume 2. Played wonderfully by David Carradine of Kung Fu fame, Bill is a clam mannered south-westerner, with cracked lips, rawhide skin, and a chilly, piercing stare that speaks volumes. After watching his performance for a few minutes (the initial conversation between Bill and The Bride seemes interminable, and sets the pace for the first hour of the film), I found myself thinking that Carradine and Tarantino are a perfect match, just the actor for such a visceral director. I could practically smell tequila on Billís breath, just as I could almost feel the blowing dust around the chapel sting my eyes.

I use the word interminable, but not in a negative way mind you, but because the slow pace of the film is such a departure from kinetic energy and rapid fire editing of the first piece. Tarantino shifts gears and directs his homage to the smokey, dry westerns of old. While the first volume had the look and feel of todayís explosive martial arts pieces, Volume 2 is comparable to the spaghetti westerns Clint Eastwood lived in for years. Many scenes had an extremely deliberate feel, as characters would slowly step closer to each other, their dusty boots filling the screen as they walked. This is not to say this film is devoid of action, as it has plenty, it just isnít the centerpiece of the film.

That said, there are a number of impressive, bloody action scenes, and quite a few showdowns. Before confronting Bill, The Bride hunts down another member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, who is played by the always good Michael Madsen, most widely recognized as Mr. Blonde, from Tarantinoís cult classic, Reservoir Dogs. Madsenís character gets a surprising amount of development, and is absolutely convincing as Madsen never breaks character. This reviewer is from southern Arizona originally, and Madsenís characters is right out of my hometown, almost to the point where I had to ask myself if I had met this creep. Daryl Hannah has more of a role in this film and she is quite imposing. At 6í2Ē, Hannah has no problem portraying a towering, juggernaut of a bad ass. The showdown between The Bride and Elle is one of the most intense fight scenes I have ever seen. I was cringing every few seconds as these two inflicted wave after wave of brutal punishment on each other. Spectacular cinema folks.

In sticking with his homage style, Tarantino has an entire section of the film devoted to a massively overused martial arts film mechanic, the training of a student by an old master with long white eyebrows and beard. Everything from character design, to locale, to dialogue is templated directly off of black belt theatre, and Tarantino injects humor in all the right places, telling the audience exactly what he thinks about this very cool, but clearly campy methodology. I loved this section of the film; it was absolutely hilarious, and one can tell Tarantino has a true love for this goofy genre. Just another example of this directors exceptional vision.

Like the first film, the second volume is peppered with interesting and creative mode shifts in cinematography and style. Black and white, filters, grainy shots, and some experimentation with aspect ratio all add to the experience. In one rather intense scene in particular, dealing with a coffin, Tarantino had me gripping my seat with white knuckles, as the photography and sound techniques draw you into this dark scene utterly.

Hitchcock would have been proud. There is also a vast amount of homage in this film, as with any Tarantino film. I saw references to many films and shows, including Kung Fu (Bill plays a wooden flute), Blade Runner, (Hannah flopping around on the ground while hurt), Shoalin Invincibles, and many others.

In closing, I must comment on Uma Thurman, who was perfect for this role, and is in perfect form throughout both films. This is an actress who understands high acting. She may not be the most skilled actor, but she understands how to use her face and body to get ideas across to the audience, a concept many actors fail to grasp. Who says women can't be action stars, I can't think of anyone else in this role?

I liked Kill Bill Volume 2. At this point I think I may like Volume 1 a bit more, but I have a feeling after additional viewings of both, that may change, as Volume 2 is a more character driven, personal film. So if you donít mind some drawn out conversation and additional character development, I recommend Kill Bill Volume 2. If youíre looking for another high energy action film, You may want to stick with Volume 1.