Cert: 18 Runtime: 136 mins Director: Quentin Tarantino Cast: Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen, Darryl Hannah and David Carradine
You gotta hand it to the old girl. I never saw nobody buffalo Bill the way she buffaloed Bill. Bill used to think she was so damn smart. I tried to tell him… “Bill, she’s just smart for a blonde.”
So were back with the Bride again and QT’s only sequel to date. What do we have in store in Volume II? Beatrix Kiddo a.k.a The Bride (Uma Thurman) is a female assassin, a trained killer who was betrayed by the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, led by her former boss Bill (David Carradine) who gunned her down on her wedding day leaving her for dead. The Bride awoke four years later and set out to get her vengeance on Bill and the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad who betrayed her. Helped by one of Bill’s former tutors, retired sword maker Hattori Hanzo, The Bride begun her quest for vengeance and she killed Vernita Green and O’Ren Ishii. Continuing her quest for vengeance, The Bride sets out to get her vengeance on Bill’s younger brother Budd (Michael Madsen) who is now a bouncer at a strip club and Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah), The Bride’s one-eyed nemesis and Bill himself, unaware Bill has her daughter B.B in his custody, who she thought died while she was in her coma. Will The Bride succeed and get her vengeance and will she kill Bill? ‘Vol. 2’ is nearly his least violent (and actually also almost his least talkative) film yet, and I’ve read the original script and segments of David Carradine’s ‘The Kill Bill Diaries’, about all he saw of the making of the movies, and it’s clear that many of Quentin’s best decisions had to do with diminishing or removing the action. In place of the more obvious strategy of showing us a detailed sequence of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad gruesomely gunning down the people in the chapel, he decided no, pull back and let us just listen to a brief event from a distance, observing it in a kind of silhouette. And in place of Bill firing a warning shot at the Bride and holding her at gun-point while she walks towards a couch to seat herself, he decided Bill simply regards her casually, his pistol just visible at his waist, of which they are both aware.
In the earlier idea, all suspense would have been spent with the warning shot. When Bill relates the tale of Pai Mei to the Bride, he decided it would be more effective to let us use our imaginations while listening to Bill’s ponderous speech by the camp-fire in the dark than to play seventies Kung Fu footage of Pai Mei in action over the monologue.The first time I saw the movie, the first big thing that struck me was Budd. His is a great and tragic character, and Michael Madsen is a great actor, and his performance begins in a singularly perfect scene with Carradine which shows us his indifference to, and acceptance of, his approaching probable demise. And for a long stretch the Bride is forgotten, and we simply follow Budd into the lonely strip club he tends bar at, getting a taste of what his existence has become, of his disappointment and withdrawal from life (the scene where he argues with his boss Larry and finally relinquishes both his hat and his pride is worthy of applause). Every time I watch the scene of the Bride’s sneak-attack on him, I am more amazed by how perfectly constructed the whole sequence is. A long, meticulous build-up ending in unexpected truncation is a trade-mark of Quentin’s, in action as well as dialogue. What Budd does with the Bride is endlessly fascinating to me in its brilliant, primeval simplicity. This is the stuff of great myths.In the last chapter the tone of the film changes from the grandiose, Tarantinian adventure of the first four chapters – in which almost godlike characters imprison, and barter, and betray, and apprentice, and battle each other, and do great deeds, and in which much depends on who possesses the Bride’s unequalled Hanzo sword – and settles into an intimate dialogue between the story’s two central characters (and one other, for a time), in which Quentin subtly and expertly simmers the tension and danger that exists between these two supremely deadly assassins.
This section of the film is in keeping with an other trade-mark of Quentin’s, that of inserting elements of simplest, uttermost reality into an over-the-top, epic story. With Quentin’s help, David Carradine produced a deliriously great performance in this film, as a man who is possibly even more laid-back than Carradine was himself, but who can be deeply, genuinely menacing. In the last chapter, he delivers two of the movie’s best speeches, one about the death of a goldfish, the other about his favourite superhero.’Kill Bill Vol. 2′ is the most joyful, the most exciting, the most glorious celebration of the cinema I’ve ever seen. It is Tarantino’s deepest and most emotionally powerful film by far (and the often over-looked sequence of the Bride slowly preparing herself before leaving a bed- room to face Bill is one of the very best in the film) and during an autoexcavation it has one of the very best uses of music I’ve heard in a movie. And the scene of the Bride’s triumph over the designs of Budd has become one of my central images of the cinema. This film is a human object and it radiates its director’s signature passion and love of the movies. Roger Ebert once said that ‘The Third Man’ is ‘the film that most perfectly embodies the romance of going to the movies’, or it is for him at least. For me, it’s this one.