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Kill Bill Volume Two

Well, how refreshing, how disappointing. Volume 2 is long, loud and more like a spaghetti horror movie than anything else.

The Bride is still working her way through the list of baddies to wipe out, but finds the top three a lot more effort than the ones in the first segment. Rather than standing there, allowing their limbs or head to be severed, they fight back, and with considerable skill. Bill's brother is as vengeful as the Bride herself, and conjours up a torture for her which was scarily real. I'm not often convinced by the blank screen, full soundtrack technique, but this sequence is even more impressive for the lack of visuals. It's like what they say about radio: they have the best pictures of all.

There's an extensive sequence with the least winsome mentor in all of Asia, who has skills to teach the bride which she appears to be unable to learn (especially the beard-swishing thing, which is his signature move).

The Daryl Hannah pirate argues prettily and fights dirty, but is hoist by her own petard, probably (this loose end, along with one or two others, is left dangling so that we have the possibility of Volume Three). And then Bill himself talks almost as much as Khyser Sozay in The Usual Suspects, and eventually, after a swift toilet break, there is a brief but oddly lethal final fight.

There's an upbeat feel to the movie, as the protagonist completes her revenge spree, but it's not fair to advertise this as 'the rampage continues'. The chat continues, and the beautiful photography continues, and Uma thurman's face continues to be very watchable indeed, despite the occasional homage to Marty Feldman's ocular disadvantage.

One of these pairs of eyes belongs to Marty Feldman, the sketch show writer, and the other to Ms Thurman. Were they separated at birth?

But the wild bloodfest that was Volume One has either grown up to become a long talkie or lost its pace completely as the crowds of enemies have dispersed. How is it possible that the murdering rage that consumed the Bride in Volume One has been toned down so far that we are left feeling that her revenge-bloodlust is justified?

Tarantino wisecracking doesn't turn up here, I thought; the trunk shot is replaced by a much more macabre angle and I noticed that the traditional barrage of f-words wasn't there. The swearing was a lot more effective for that. David Carradine's long dialogue with the Bride at the start and the end of the movie was well-written, especially his analysis of the comic book heroes who put on costumes: Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker put on fancy costumes to disguise their true identities while they fight crime as Batman and Spiderman respectively; Superman takes off his Clark Kent costume to show his true identitiy as the Man of Steel from Krypton.

I was fascinated by the soundtrack, which contained some familar tracks and lots of interesting new music. The later stages of the film were accompanied by what seems to be that vague eastern-style Chinese Restaurant-type cumin & fenugreek-flavoured instruments, which were then suddenly augmented with huge Mexican trumpet blasts, with soaring tunes and a strong scent of chilli. In shorthand, you might like to consider that Volume One reflected the Kung Fu/Manga influence, while Volume Two was Clint Eastwood and Lee Van Cleef wading through pasta.

The long wait wasn't that long, but it wasn't really the final reels of KIll Bill that were delivered. Calling it Volume 2 prevented it from being thought of as a sequel, I suppose. Sequels are so often 'same characters, same setting, same style, slightly different plot (except in the case of T3, of course)'. This was definitely the tamer, more interesting, more verbal, more horrifying second half of an extremely uneven movie.

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