KILL BILL VOL. 2 (Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2004)
First off, let me start by saying that I wasn’t big on KILL BILL VOL 1. I thought it lacked true suspense, and at best it was just superficial entertainment pretending to be a big movie event.
Also it bothered me that it pretentiously introduced itself as “The 4th Film By Quentin Tarantino” in the credits. I mean who the Hell else does that? Can you imagine: “The 17th Film By Martin Scorsese” in the opening credits of GOODFELLAS? I didn’t think so.
But if Spike Lee can get away with calling his films “joints” in his credits I guess I can let it slide. What I couldn't let slide in KBV1 was the dry humorless tone and the fact that many characters were such general pop culture stereotypes of the sort that have already appeared multiple times in Tarantino’s work.
Take for example the redneck hospital orderly that whores out the Bride's comatose body to redneck scum for $75 a pop. Didn't we already go there in PULP FICTION? The orderly even has a tacky vehicle in the form of a souped-up pickup called “The Pussy Wagon” that would not look out of place in the same garage as the chopper (Zed's Motorbike) “Grace” in “The 2ndFilm By Quentin Tarantino.”
Also the out-of-sequence chronology that characterizes Tarantino’s work, once so innovative yet now feels like a transparent device that disguises the lack of a stronger story arc.
Michael Parks as a seedy but wise Texas sheriff when surveying the massacre that begins the entire rampage remarks: “if you was a moron you could almost admire it.”
That pretty much summed how I felt about the flick when I saw it last year. But lo and behold, I like KILL BILL VOL. 2 quite a bit, and it even made me re-evaluate the first one to such a degree that I have to say that it appears to me to be much more solid as a first parter.
KBV1 resonates with a passion and power that I cynically ignored first time around. The 4th film credit I previously bitched about now informs us that this is one big movie that is told in 2 parts.
KBV2 doesn't label itself as “The 5th film...” and its ending credits include actors that were only in the first film.
It truly is the cinematic equivalent of those two part TV episodes with the “to be concluded” caption that were done to death in the ‘70s and ‘80s. There is plenty of the stylized violence of the first half here but what makes this work is the back-story and genuine emotion fueling the character’s motives.
We learn why the Bride’s fiancée and entire wedding party were slaughtered, how Daryl Hannah’s eye-patch came to be, what connection the Bride and Bill (David Carradine) had, and most importantly who the Bride really is - name revealed and all.
Don't worry, I won't reveal any of those spoilers here I'll just say that the dialogue while tense and filled with proverbs is smoothly recited and intensely felt by the actors especially Carradine.
A number of critics are saying that KBV2 works alone without seeing KBV1 but I disagree. I mean none of them have actually experienced that so it seems like a silly appraisal. I would say you should not see KBV2 without seeing KBV1 first and since they are out the same week albeit in different formats there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.
KILL BILL as one big movie is a dense collection of styles and tones that will make many treasure their own obscure pop culture interests and realize that if that former video store clerk can make epic cinema out of lowbrow pulp why can't we get off our ass and create something too? At least that's how I'm thinking.