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Kill Bill: Volume 2 adds extra plot and dialogue to the action-heavy exploits of its predecessor, while still managing to deliver a suitably hard-hitting sequel.
All Critics (238)
| Top Critics (48)
| Fresh (200)
| Rotten (38)
| DVD (25)
Vol. 2 fills in the motivational and emotional blanks that left the first movie tasting like a meal made only of appetizers.
Where KB1 had the pace of an ADHD six-year-old on a sugar high, KB2 has been Ritalinized, its tempo slowed to a crawl in self-conscious, and self-defeating, imitation of Sergio Leone. It's two hours that feel like five.
If Kill Bill - Vol. 1 was like a roundhouse kick to the head, Vol. 2 is practically a warm hug.
Those turned off by the first part's reckless, relentless violent purges aren't likely to find cause for conversion, but Vol. 2 certainly broadens the tale's remit, even as it aims to deepen it.
I've lost my sweet tooth for slice-and-dice escapism, and perhaps this is why I feel the need to see movies that don't simply glamorize or fetishize or supernaturalize brutality.
The pop encyclopedist and video-store genius has become a megalomaniac, and the exhilarating filmmaker he might have been is disappearing fast.
n the hyper-kinetic Kill Bill 1 you didn't know when the end happened, in Vol 2 you often wish the proceedings could hurtle to the finale, fast.
I don't even want to do Tarantino and his pathetic accomplices the honour of recounting the narrative of the second "volume" of this exercise in trashpedalling, and frankly I don't need to, because there isn't a plot to speak of.
Where Volume 1 is about action, Volume 2 is talk, Tarantino's stock in trade, and it's good (if somewhat long winded) talk. It's also another roll call of Tarantino's cinematic loves ...
It has its moments, and Thurman is an appealing heroine. But on the whole, this is a disjointed, disappointing and monstrously self-indulgent exercise.
Sequel just as over-the-top explicitly violent.
Although it's a gigantic shame that Miramax split Quentin Tarantino's long awaited 'kung-fu samurai Spaghetti Western love story' epic into two halves, "Kill Bill Vol. 2" pays off in spades...
When Kill Bill: Volume 1 came out, some critics made the point that it would be difficult to judge how well the film worked until Volume 2 was out in the open. Because the two films had been created by splitting an existing work in half, rather than it being a direct successor, or the two being filmed back to back like The Matrix sequels, they argued that it would be unwise to write off Volume 1 until Volume 2 had been given the chance to finish the story.
In my own reviews, I have always maintained that films should be able to stand on their own regardless of their relationship to any predecessors, successors or any other relation. The individual instalments of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, for instance, are perfectly successful films in whichever order you choose to view them - and it is interesting that the same critics who defended Kill Bill did not necessarily take the same line with Peter Jackson's work. Both by itself and in relation to its predecessor, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a big disappointment, making many of the same errors as Volume 1 but dragging things out until the whole experience becomes almost completely insufferable.
To some extent, this state of affairs is not entirely surprising. Because Quentin Tarantino did not originally intend to split Kill Bill into two films, we should expect the tone and approach to storytelling to be broadly similar. And if Volume 1 had been successful in all of the areas in which it ultimately fell short, this consistency would have been a source of well-earned praise. On the other hand, the pause between the two films' release would have given Tarantino ample time to address some of the criticisms that were made of Volume 1 - its episodic story, lack of three-dimensional characters, needless editing gimmicks and so on. If nothing else, he could have gone back into the editing booth and tried to cut it down to around 90 minutes.
What we get instead, in light of the critical and commercial success of Volume 1, is a film which is longer, baggier and more needlessly wordy than its predecessor - in other words, a film which has all the faults of Volume 1, but which is more boring to boot. All of the errors of the first film become all the more difficult to tolerate the longer they stick around, and because they lack the novelty of the first film we lose patience with Tarantino much quicker. If the first film raised concern than the 1990s wonder had dropped the ball, this transitions that feeling into a grim realisation that the good days are firmly behind him.
On the good side, there are a number of aspects to Volume 2 which are watchable in their own right. One of them is the performance of Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver. Hannah was given too little to do in the first film, and she does her very best to make Tarantino's samey, show-off, adolescent dialogue feel as though it could have come from her character's mouth. Like her work on Blade Runner two decades previously, Hannah brings a balance of panic and confidence to the role, and both Elle and Pris are ultimately undone by acts of violence. Her performance is arguably the best in the whole film, and it's just a shame that her fate is ultimately handled in a rather cack-handed way.
The black-and-white sections of the film, which depict the build-up to the Bride's wedding, are also handled pretty well. Tarantino has made no secret throughout his career of his love of westerns, remarking to the AFI that the black suits worn by his characters in Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction were his equivalent of the dusters in Sergio Leone's 'Dollars' trilogy. He manages to successfully recreate the ominous stillness of the opening of Once Upon a Time in the West, and the dialogue between the Bride and Bill is pretty well-written; we pick up on things that are unsaid and why the characters don't say them, which is a sign that we are at least somewhat invested in their situation.
For the most part, however, these moments are lost in a narrative which remains episodic, distracted and needlessly non-linear. When Tarantino showed the events of Reservoir Dogs out of order, he was making a valid and interesting point about the way in which crime thrillers were constructed, and how much we take elements of Western cinematic storytelling for granted. By comparison, there is no real reason why the backstory involving Pai Mei's tutelage should not come before the Bride is buried alive - it's Tarantino being non-traditional for its own sake, and it neither adds to the emotional impact of her escape nor makes the storytelling more efficient.
Because the narrative is so episodic, it's very easy to remember Volume 2 (like its predecessor) as nothing more than a collection of bits. Some of them have unusual or fleetingly interesting arcs within themselves, which hint at a greater film lurking somewhere in the undergrowth. But while scenes like the showdown with Elle or the wedding can be effective in their own self-contained way, Tarantino never knits them together into a narrative that builds to an appropriate climax. The burial sequence exists only because Tarantino really likes The Vanishing, and it handles that element of the plot about as badly as that film's English-language remake. Likewise, for all the talk of the showdown with Bill (when it finally arrives after far too much time), his death is a total damp squib, with far too little catharsis and making too less sense.
The lead-up to Bill's death sheds light on just how self-important and self-interested Tarantino has become as a writer. The long monologue about comic books and Superman's secret identity takes an awfully long time to say something which could have been handled in a couple of lines, without adding anything particularly profound or bringing new insights on the popular culture it is referencing. David Carradine is a fine actor, and his casting is a nice if overworked nod to his long career in exploitation cinema. But try as he might, it still sounds like Tarantino boasting in vain about how clever he is, and has none of the gravity of, say, the watch story from Pulp Fiction.
The longer he talks, the more we keep coming back to the central plot hole of the two films - if Bill was so confident that the Bride would kill all his other assassins, why go through with it? Why allow them to die if he was so convinced that he was doomed, instead of letting them waste away (as Budd certainly would have done) or thrive on their own (as O-Ren Ishii was)? The film makes no effort to set him up as a guilt-ridden old master, who accepts his fate to atone for past mistakes, nor does it have the ingenuity to have him go down all guns blazing. All we get is a long, slow winding down with very little in the way of a pay-off.
One of the big talking points about Volume 1 was its supposedly feminist credentials, or lack thereof. I argued in my review that simply putting Uma Thurman's character in traditionally male situations did not constitute by itself a subversion of genre or gender expectations - her character was still essentially "Bruce Lee in a dress", talking like a man and acting like one. Volume 2 tries to amend the situation by playing up the Bride's maternal side, focussing on the relationship with her daughter and how her motherhood empowers her. But this only causes the film to lean further on cliché and female stereotypes without challenging them, and the pregnancy test scene is either just plain silly or a really poorly executed attempt at comedy. Germaine Greer wasn't wrong when she branded Tarantino as being "about as feminist as Wagner".
All of which brings us back to arguably the biggest problem with Volume 2: we don't care about any of the characters, because they don't feel like believable people. Without any sense of empathy towards the Bride, even after being forced to spend so much time in her company, she becomes a hollow cipher, made all the more hollow by Thurman's blank performance. Get Carter works as a revenge thriller because Mike Hodges had the confidence to make us subversively root for Jack and then show how his violent acts destroy him in the iconic, near-perfect ending. Volume 2 ultimately falls into the same trap that Zero Dark Thirty would nearly a decade later: it presents us with an empty person, asks us to see them as the guardian of all that is right and just, and then provides no evidence to support that claim.
Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a disappointing conclusion to an already underwhelming story which leaves us either completely cold or frustrated at what it could have been. For all its moments of visual poetry or the odd flash of interesting character construction, it ends up being more of a letdown than its predecessor by virtue of being longer, duller and more talky. Tarantino has since made worse films (Death Proof being his worst by quite some distance), but there is still precious little here that is worthy of praise.
Not as brutal, bloody as the first but still has plenty of good fights. Shows how she trained to become an assassin and fills in the missing pieces from the first.
A bit of an improvement over its first half, but not by much. But i was impressed with some of its character work and David Carradine`s magnificent performance which made the film.
A more laid back not as quite as violent as the first but a solid finish to a nice tale. The entire why of volume 1 is laid out for you in a great finish.
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