Kill Bill: Volume Two
While it is common for a successful film to spawn a sequel, what is rare in the world of movie making is a well thought out continuation of a film. With Kill Bill volume 2 we receive the later. It is a necessary follow up to the widely popular volume 1. In typical Quentin Tarantino creates a world out of his own peculiarly twisted mind and weaves a story that pushes limits while telling an intriguing tale. Most already know the basic story about a pregnant bride (Uma Thurman) trying to give up a life as a hired assassin finds herself the sole survivor or a brutal massacre on her wedding day. The only thing on her mind when she awakens from a long coma is revenge on her former colleagues. In volume one the Bride takes and kills the first two people on her hit list, Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu, )as well as a small army of martial arts expects and a particularly sadistic teenager girl. Now, with volume 2 the Bride must finish the job, killing the amoral Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Billís brother Budd (Michael Madsen), and complete her revenge against the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad with the death of her former mentor, boss and lover, Bill (David Carradine) himself.
While the first volume was an orgy of blood and mayhem this one is more of a marathon, it is given the time to build more to the climax. Here more of the inner motivation is permitted to come out. While in most films the exposition scenes are rather tame here there is excitement built into even the most mundane fact. Each little piece of information permits the audience to understand the characters even though their actions are so outside any norms that typically the viewer would become detached. Even themes like misogyny; normally a big red flag for most is handled in such a way as to be fascinating. The Bride is subjected to her early martial arts training by the legendary master of masters Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Her new master is known to hate women, Caucasians and Americans, three strikes right there for our heroine. Here the hatred of women just helps define the strength of character and determination shown by the Bride. This volume has far greater heart that the first. It expands our view of the characters in novel ways giving us a chance to really care about what is going on. For a film that is primarily an action flick this is rare indeed.
In typical Tarantino fashion this is a dream cast. Co-writer Uma Thurman owns this role like no other actress could. Just like Michael in Godfather 2 her character wants to get out of the violet life that she inhabited. Instead, she is pulled back in not only by revenge but by honor. Thurman transcends the action with real emotionally driven character development. David Carradine rises from the grave of Kung Fu to become the almost sepulcher Bill. It was rumored that Warren Betty was the first choice for this role. Fortunately for us he turned down the role. Since we all know Carradine from his martial arts television work we immediately see him as a former master, physically past his prime but as dangerous as an old lion looking for one more kill before he dies. Daryl Hannah has versatility at her command that few actors can even aspire to have. She is as believable as a child-like stripper in Dancing at the Blue Iguana to the deadly Elle Driver here. Her motivation is predominately jealousy, the Bride had always been Billís favorite and now has to die, horribly. Gordon Liu is directly out of the old Hong Kong grind house flicks. With his long white hair and beard there is a surreal feeling that surrounds him.
Few directors have made such an impression upon the movie audience with so few works as Quentin Tarantino. He doesnít grind out his films; he lets them simmer in his mind until by the first day of filming he posses a complete and complex film waiting to be made. Not only has his short resume made an undeniable impact on film it has permeated into our collective consciousness. With is complete disregard for chronological order he draws the audience into the action while always respecting the die hard movie fan. It is obvious that his works come from a deep love of film and a love of his characters. The Kill Bill films are homage to his many hours of watching martial arts flicks in the old broken down grind houses. He doesnít merely imitate the genre he goes beyond making it his own. Each shot is set up with care, every detail so well set that it will take many viewings to catch it all. His mastery of lighting is evident through out the film. When you watch notice is use of shadow and light, juxtaposed to reinforce the emotions conveyed by the actors. His use of musical queues and references to pop culture will also keep you entertained through multiple viewings. It was a fantastic decision to break up the Kill Bill saga into two films. They are so different in scope and feeling that to edit them together would have been a disservice to all involved.
As with the first volume this film demonstrates how a movie should be transferred to DVD. The DTS audio track is rich and fills the room. Each little sound is clear, a Foley artistís dream that all their hard work is so crisp. The anamorphic video is fantastically presented. The color palette is well balanced even during the shots where a color is pushed for effect. I would much rather see a film like this on my home theater free of the distractions of the movie theater, so I can sit there and soak in the details. The extras provided are somewhat typical but no the less interesting. There are the almost mandatory deleted scenes, itís easy to see why they where excluded from a film so tightly edited. The behind the scenes featurette demonstrate the hard work and arduous training required to bring Tarantinoís vision to reality. Rounding things off are musical performances from the premier. Not only invest in this disc but make sure you have the first volume as well.