Vol. 2 (2004)

Kill Bill: Vol. 1 Review

Alan:+

Ebert: Rolling Stone: TV Guide:
















Warning, minor plot points revealed!

First things first.  Taken as a whole Kill Bill is already the best movie of the year.  I don't mean the year thus far.  I mean 2004.  There will be nothing better.  

Kill Bill, Volumes 1 and 2, is such a masterpiece that I have trouble describing my feelings about it.  It's like trying to explain what "love" is.  Here's a few quotes from my Kill Bill: Vol. 1 review which will help illustrate my thoughts:

Kill Bill is, without exaggeration, The Coolest Film Ever Made. 

I was so happy as I watched this movie that I could have exploded with joy.

I sat on the edge of my seat giggling with glee through every chapter.

This film is so awesome that I actually had to force myself not to spend the entire day watching it over and over and over.

...it's almost as if this movie was made specifically for my personal amusement.

So it should be pretty clear how I feel about the film.  In fact, I'm going to bed early tonight so I can go see it again as soon as I wake up tomorrow.  

Even though it was filmed as a single movie and then cut in half, Kill Bill Volume 2 can actually work on it's own.  I don't recommend it, because the bulk of the action is in Volume 1 but if you think you forgot what happened in the last film (and haven't bought the DVD for some reason) you should have no problem following the story.

Note: We learn The Bride's name in this half of the film but I won't spoil it here.

One of the opening scenes of the movie takes us back to the chapel massacre at the blood splattered Bride's wedding rehearsal.  Unseen in the first film, we get our first look at Bill, who seems cordial but is seething over The Bride's betrayal.  The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad shows up and guns down everyone in attendance.  (Remember the Sheriff's son mentioning that they even shot the organ player?  He's played in a fun cameo by Samuel L. "Jules" Jackson)  Fast forward- Bill drives out to the desert to warn his brother, Budd, that The Bride (Black Mamba) is coming for him.  He explains that she has already dispatched Vernita Green (Copperhead) and O-Ren Ishii (Cottonmouth) as well as O-Ren's Crazy 88.  Budd sets a trap and seemingly puts an end to The Bride's roaring rampage of revenge.  In flashback, we see The Bride's training under the cruel tutelage of master Pai Mei.  (incidentally the same actor, Gordon Liu, who played the leader of the Crazy 88's, Johnny Mo, this time plays master Pai Mei)  Back in the present, Budd meets his end and The Bride has a excellent brawl with her nemesis among the DiVAS, and Bill's new lover, Elle Driver (California Mountain Snake).  After that it's time for the final name on her list and a surprise reunion with the daughter she thought she'd lost.  

Kill Bill Volume 2 does not play like the rip roaring non-stop action and carnage spectacular that was Volume 1.  However, this second part is the film that tells the story.  The scenes that were excised from the whole to create Volume 1 were the frosting on the delicious cup-cake that is Volume 2.  

If Volume 1 was Quentin Tarantino's action film, then Volume 2, while not without action, is classic Quentin hipster conversation.  This is the Pulp Fiction of the two.  This is the Ezekiel 25:17 Tarantino.  Bill discusses Superman and tells the story of Pai Mei and the "Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique," Budd's boss explains the employer/employee relationship, and Elle relates what she's learned on the internet about The Black Mamba.  

Besides the typically excellent and genius soundtrack for the film, additional score is again supplied by Wu Tang's RZA and also by QT pal Robert Rodriguez (director of the El Mariachi and Spy Kids series.)  

The action scenes in the movie are outstanding.  The Elle Driver fight scene is a claustrophobic brawl in a mobile home with an unexpected ending.  The scene with Bill at the end of the movie is not action packed but it is very very high anxiety.  It's like staring face to face with a cobra that is ready to strike.  You know that violence is about to erupt at any second but it still surprises you when it does.  

My favorite part of the film is The Bride's training with Pai Mei.  This is definitely the funniest part of the movie.  Pei Mei is a wonderful character who acts and looks just like all the master's in the classic Kung Fu films of Hong Kong cinema.  He dismisses her skill and teases her about her weak technique and after what may have been years,  finally trains her to be the Natural Born Killer that she was born to be.  

One thing I read in a Quentin Tarantino interview that I thought would be interesting was the possibility of a sequel perhaps 10 years from now that shows Nikki, the daughter of Vernita, who witnessed her mother's death at the beginning of Volume 1, coming back for her revenge.  Quentin said it would be fun to actually film some of the scenes now so he could capture the actors at their younger ages.  I think it would be cool too if Nikki came to avenge Vernita and ended up having to fight The Bride's daughter B.B.  We see in the movie that Bill has already begun her training as a warrior, and with The Bride as her mom she would probably be very skilled.  

The actors are all absolutely perfect for their roles.  Uma Thurman, favorite muse of Tarantino, is The Bride.  Since the role was written for her, she is perfect for it.  Daryl Hannah is completely unrecognizable as Elle Driver.  She's the most wicked of the DiVAS and the most equal in skill to The Bride.  We learn that she also trained with Pai Mei and it was he that plucked out her eye and she that killed him for it.  Michael Madsen, does fine as the degenerate Budd.  I would have like to see him die differently though.  As mentioned before, Gordon Liu is awesome as master Pai Mei.  And David Carradine is finally front and center as the title character Bill (a.k.a Snake Charmer.)  His age and previous portrayal of Kwai Chang Caine on the 1970's TV show Kung Fu (which I actually watched in rerun as a child) gives Bill the mystic Eastern wisdom that the master of the DiVAS requires.  It was nice to see him again.  Hopefully Quentin will be responsible for giving his career an adrenalin injection to the heart as well.

DVD buyers:  Volume 1 is out in stores now and Volume 2 will probably be released in the fall.  I know for a fact that a Special Edition Set will follow the Volume 2 release.  This Special Edition will probably fuse the volumes back together again and will hopefully contain new and extended scenes.  Also the individual DVD's are light on extras so I'm sure they will load up the Special Editions just like the second releases or all Quentin's previous films.  (Reservoir Dogs SE, Pulp Fiction SE, Jackie Brown SE, etc.)

I'm sure there will be other great films this year, for example Spiderman 2, but I do not think there will be anything better than Kill Bill.  In fact, I am already confident that it will have a place on my Top Ten films of the decade list. 

 

Special Note:  If you stay through the impossibly long credits you get to see a 5 second blooper of The Bride yanking that eye out at the start of The Showdown at House of Blue Leaves from Volume 1

Special Note 2:  The preview for the 2002 Jet Li film Hero, that Miramax and Quentin are apparently finally going to release stateside looks awesome beyond belief.  I might actually order a region 0 DVD from China because I can't wait and want to see it right now.