Kill Bill: Volume 2


Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Kill Bill: Volume 2
"The work of a consummate fanboy, who continues to show little sign of being willing to engage with the world beyond the movie screen, or otherwise mature as a filmmaker."

With O-Ren Iishi and Vernita Green already disposed of in the course of Kill Bill: Volume 1, The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) sets her sights on her remaining former DiVAS colleagues.

Budd (Michael Madsen) gets the drop on The Bride, incapacitates her, takes her to an out of the way cemetery and inters her alive before contacting Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) and offering to sell her the Bride's Hanzo blade.

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But the Bride escapes, using the powers she learned from martial arts master Pai Mai, arriving just in time to find Elle dispose of Budd. A ferocious duel ensues, in which we learn how Elle lost her eye before the Bride plucks out the other one and squashes it underfoot - one of many moments adding credence to that foot fetish theory that emerged with Vol 1.

So, two down and one to go - Bill (David Carradine) himself...

Commenting on his experience of working with Quentin Tarantino 12 years after Reservoir Dogs, Michael Madsen remarks that the director "hasn't changed at all. He's totally and absolutely the same guy as he was before. But now he has bigger toys to play with." And there, in a nutshell, is the problem with Kill Bill: Vol 2. Like its predecessor, it's the work of a consummate fanboy, who continues to show little sign of being willing to engage with the world beyond the movie screen, or otherwise mature as a filmmaker.

What makes it worse is that every second intertextual reference highlights this fact. Take, for instance, the massacre at the wedding rehearsal that precipitates the whole sorry story. A shot of the church's open door frame onto the desert beyond recalls John Ford and the centrality of the rituals of weddings and funerals in the likes of The Searchers. This is followed by a combination of bamboo flute - Bill's signature instrument as it turns out - and a lift of the theme that heralds Lee Van Cleef's first appearance in The Good, The Bad And The Ugly, leading to an appropriately Sergio Leone style exchange between The Bride and Bill. He appears to forgive her for leaving him but, as the ceremony recommences, the camera tracks backwards out the door - either a moment of innovation, or a less overt reference to Hitchcock's Frenzy - to reveal the other Deadly Viper Assassination Squad members ready to go to work. Then, as they enter the building, Tarantino elects to draw his camera and us further away from the action so that, as with the climax to Takeshi Kitano's Sonatine, all we see are bursts of muzzle flash at the windows.

Now, consider some of these reference points. Despite a serious motorcycle accident, Kitano has outperformed Tarantino as both a director and performer over the last half-dozen years. Leone - whose workrate Tarantino seems to have more affinity with - was able to take familiar generic material and produce art, transcending the limitations of the spaghetti Western to create not only a great Western, but also a great film in Once Upon a Time In The West.

A touch of Chang Cheh - One-Armed Swordsman - here and a dash of Lucio Fulci - City Of The Living Dead - there might be fun as a game of spot the reference, but anyone could have made this film by the cut and paste method of sticking a whole load of favoured quotations in a hat and picking them out at random.

Of course, Tarantino would say that this is a legitimate approach for the postmodern filmmaker and no doubt cite Godard as his model and authority - note an awkwardly out of place direct-to-camera address from The Bride, or the structuring of the film as a number of more or less independent "chapters" in the manner of My Life To Live - but, no, it's really just laziness.

If Kill Bill is a comeback film, Tarantino's future career prospects look about as good as Mike Tyson's. The Emperor's new clothes are showing.

Reviewed on: 22 Apr 2004
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Kill Bill: Volume 2 packshot
Tarantino's revenge saga dips into Spaghetti Western and movie-buff weirdness
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Director: Quentin Tarantino

Writer: Quentin Tarantino

Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Sid Haig, Vivica A Fox, Lucy Liu, Sonny Chiba

Year: 2004

Runtime: 136 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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