“ Genre: Action & Adventure / Theatrical Release: 2004 / Suitable for 18 years and over / Director: Quentin Tarantino / Actors: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Liu Chia Hui ... / Blu-ray released 2008-11-03 at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainm / Features of the Blu-ray: PAL „
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Uma Thurman is back as the Bride, the sexy Ninja assassin hell-bent on killing Bill, her former employer.
Kill Bill 2 grabbed my attention, and did not let go. It is fantastic to look at. The movie looks great, and this gives it its authenticity and credibility.
Uma Thurman has real star power, here more than ever before. We see her constantly up-close, her beauty, and her intensity. But I wish she appeared in a vehicle that tested her dramatic range better. She seems seduced by the avant-garde glamour of appearing as Tarantino's star.
David Carradine has presence as Bill. He is wise and formidable, a worthy villain. There is something tragic about the situation: an accidental pregnancy, and Beatrix Kiddo (the Bride's unlikely name) only wants to quit the ninja assassin business so as to raise her child in a normal environment. For Bill, this is a waste of Kiddo's "gift" to be an assassin. In a vivid monologue, Bill compares Kiddo to Superman and other superheroes. He cannot believe that Kiddo could have been content with a normal life, working in a small-town Texas record shop. Carradine frames Kill Bill for us: Beatrix is a superhero, so we should sit back and enjoy the ride, and not think about it too much, because Kill Bill is really just a comic book set to the screen.
Their climactic scene with their daughter echoes the opening scene from volume 1, when Vernita Green and Beatrix also confront each other in the presence of a child and postpone violence for the child's sake. But the atmosphere remains charged with violence. We watch Bill preparing their daughter a bologna sandwich, using a large French knife to cut it, and we are aware that Beatrix's hair-trigger nerves are on alert.
Tarantino again works in a few non-chronological scenes to good effect. In the opening scene (probably added after the decision to release Kill Bill in two parts), we see Beatrix driving toward Bill's, thereby revealing that she has already dispatched the other enemies on her list. So we know that she will survive everyone between her and Bill. This actually makes it more enjoyable for us to watch the scenes where she is buried alive, or has to fight Elle Driver (Darryl Hannah).
Tarantino wisely spares us certain scenes, especially the El Paso wedding massacre itself. But he still pushes new ground in traumatizing his audiences. The buried alive scene is well done, as is Beatrix tearing out Elle's eyeballs.
Darryl Hannah shines as a villain. We are glad to learn why she wears an eye patch. She commits the greatest crimes of honor, killing both Pai Mei and Budd (Bill's brother, an expert swordsmen, now gone to seed). However inspired of a casting choice, it again reveals Tarantino's essential plasticity. Why is she so evil to insult Pai Mei and also to kill Budd (Michael Madsen)?
I found Kill Bill 2 to be as engrossing as a movie can be, but I cannot treat it like other movies. Here we have a talented director, working with full license and at the peak of his powers, but he can only deliver a riveting comic book. It is more pulp fiction. Granted, a director who is aware that he is making pulp fiction, and can do so with such relish and flair is worth more than most directors, but will Tarantino ever shoot for more, for film, for art? Watching his movies is like watching a precocious child perform the same trick over and over. You wish he could learn new things.
The newest addition to my steadily growing blu-ray collection is 'Kill Bill Volume 2', Quentin Tarantino's follow-up to the iconic first movie which focusses on the broad theme of revenge.
I must admit, i'm not a huge fan of Tarantino, and although I recognise that his work can be very stylish and slick, i'm beginning to tire of the 'mocksploitation' (I made that word up myself...) and inane banter which has begun to dominate some of his recent work. Take 'Death Proof' for example - an awful film which tried really hard (and subsequently failed) to recreate the past glories of Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs.
For me personally, I recognise Kill Bill 2 as Tarantino's best work of recent years - a far better film on all levels than Volume 1. Although both of the movies join on to each other in terms of their story, they are very different in style. This is firstly noticeable as Volume 2 is more dialogue-driven than action based, and secondly, it develops the characters in a greater detail than the first offering did. For me, this makes for a much more entertaining piece all round.
To be honest, although Volume 1 featured some interesting battles, it felt a bit disjointed when compared to its sequel. Having said that, my opinion is probably in the minority, as the Internet Movie Database has an average user rating for Volume 1 of 8.2 / 10, whilst Volume 2 scores 8.0 / 10 - still, it's a close run thing.
The blu-ray version of the film costs £14.98 from Amazon, and begins where 'Volume 1' left off, with 'the Bride' (played by Uma Thurman) continuing her revenge mission against ex-boss Bill (David Carradine), his brother 'Budd' (Michael Madsen), and Elle (Daryl Hannah).
Setting off at a slow pace, The movie opens with a flashback depicting a wedding rehearsal in Texas - The Bride is preparing for a new life with a new man - but will Bill let her go...?
Compared to the first film, Volume 2 is a much more gentle offering - in a previous review, I described it as the 'calm after the storm', although there are still some well choreographed fight sequences and enough pulse-racing moments to keep the action fans entertained.
My favourite scenes involve Chia Hui Liu as 'Pei Mei' the old fighting priest who takes our heroin to be his protege - this whole section of the movie involving the 'training' sequences is good fun to watch - we all love a good training sequence... right?.
Uma Thurman is an actress who I usually find quite annoying (my annoyance was confirmed when she did those awful Virgin Media ads a while back), but here, I can't fault her in the role of 'The Bride', or 'Beatrix Kiddo', or 'Black Mamba' - all names used for her throught the two films. Her character makes the viewer feel a little uneasy as you don't know if her next move will be compassionate or vengeful, and it's this element of not knowing which makes the film unexpected and edgy in places.
Michael Madsen is great as the ex-assassin who lives in his trailer home in the middle of the desert. Madsen's character is likable, but in a nasty way - the killer with a sense of humour. The climax of his involvement with Thurman results in an unlikely, but highly claustrophobic scene, resulting in a novel way to escape from a buried coffin... only in the movies!
Without giving too much away, the films ending deals with the confrontation between Bill and 'the Bride', and it's here where the trademark Tarantino movie banter is in full flow - this time (unlike Death Proof) in a good way. Here, the writing is superb and David Carradine flexes his acting, rather than Kung-Fu abilities as Bill. He delivers his lines with a cool assurance, and portrays a wise understanding you wouldn't normally relate to with your typical, everyday, cold-blooded killer. I expect it's Carradine's best performance to date - and it's certainly one which thrust him back into prominence after a few years away from the Hollywood mainstream.
The soundtrack used throughout the film is expectedly of a high quality, featuring an eclectic mix of talent including Johnny Cash, Malcolm McLaren, and Ennio Morricone - each of which help set a variety of moods to help complement the visuals.
The high definition blu-ray version of the film doesn't really offer that much in terms of extras, although there is a mini-documentary which makes for fairly interesting viewing, and a solitary deleted scene. Picture wise, Kill Bill Volume 2 is incredibly impressive - the black levels are very deep and the colours are rich enough to give a real depth to the sets. If you watch the standard DVD version of the film after viewing the blu-ray version, you'll notice how flat it looks in comparison.
In conclusion, Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable climax to the first movie, featuring an excellent script and great characters. To be honest, it feels a lot like a Spaghetti Western - especially in the early desert scenes which feature some excellent cinematography. As a viewer, you know there will be a confrontation at some point, and the tension is masterfully built up as the viewer is drawn to the final showdown. If you've seen Volume 1 and didn't really like it - give this second film a try - everything from the first movie will make more sense, and you may enjoy it a bit more.
I highly recommend Kill Bill Volume 2 on blu-ray, which costs £14.98 from Amazon - the well structured plot and stunning visuals are really brought to life on this high definition disk, a must see film.