Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (2004)
The remaining half of the whole bloody affair that was put into motion by the massacre that took place at the Two Pines Wedding Chapel, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 picks up right from where Vol. 1 signed off and continues The Bride’s roaring rampage of revenge but in an entirely different fashion as Tarantino allows the plot & character development part to catch up to the frenzy, kinetic madness of the first to finish his saga without leaving any loose ends.
I guess almost everyone who ventured into Vol. 2 anticipating the same breakneck, thrilling & action-packed roller-coaster ride that Vol. 1 provided was left bemused & underwhelmed by what Vol. 2 had in store for them as Quentin Tarantino does a U-turn by applying brakes on the action and filling the plot with more dialogues, backstories & emotional complexities, thus turning this saga into a revenge dish that tastes better when experienced together.
After seeing her being betrayed & then watching her seek her revenge, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 finds The Bride going after the remaining members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad but before this tale of bloody retribution reaches its climax, it also focuses on few unanswered questions like how did she become such a deadly assassin, who Bill really is & what led to the ultimate betrayal. And when it at last reaches its climactic showdown, Tarantino throws in another curveball.
Written & directed by Quentin Tarantino, the second half of Kill Bill feels entirely different in comparison to the first half as this master filmmaker approaches the remaining chapters by taking an alternate route that finds the writer-director slowing down the pace considerably, unfolding the events in dialogue-driven fashion, addressing the characters’ origins, toning down the blood-splattered action, and even changes the whole texture of the very moment this entire saga had been heading towards.
The screenplay exhibits the usual Tarantino charm & wit, its homage to spaghetti westerns, Chinese wuxia, Japanese samurai films & other genres continues, Editing allows the plot to spread out a bit further but it lacks the tight, rigid structure of Vol. 1, thus resulting in a few plodding moments in its 136 minutes runtime, Cinematography carries the same vibe of the first half, and the existing musical tracks incorporated into this remaining picture continues to impress even if it isn’t as seamlessly integrated as the last time.
Coming to the performances, Uma Thurman reprises her role of The Bride and chips in with an even better input this time. Supporting her all the way is an excellent ensemble of David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah & Gordon Liu who play Bill, Budd, Elle & Pai Mei, respectively. Carradine lives up to his character’s reputation, Madsen brings Budd to life in a restrained manner, Hannah is simply as manic as she appeared in her brief cameo in Vol. 1 while Liu plays the martial arts teacher with required over-the-top exaggeration.
On an overall scale, Kill Bill: Vol. 2 may not be as enjoyable & gratifying as Vol. 1 but what it lacks in relentless carnage & unabashed spectacle of the previous chapter, it makes up in deeper examination of its characters & their motivations. While I was one of those viewers who felt cheated by its lacklustre final standoff during my first watch, I’ve only come to appreciate it more n more with every subsequent viewing as Tarantino turns what should have been an epic confrontation into an unexpectedly tragic & heartbreaking farewell. People will always be divided over which is the better volume but as a whole, Kill Bill delivers on all fronts.