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April 2004

Kill Bill Vol.2
Distributor: Miramax Films
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Producer: Lawrence Bender
Screenwriter: Quentin Tarantino
Cinematographer: Robert Richardson
Composers: RZA, Robert Rodriguez
Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Darryl Hannah, Gordon Liu, Michael Parks, & Samuel L. Jackson


The thing about Quentin Tarantino that makes him stand out amongst the many talented directors, including Steven Spielberg, is that with his films you can see the passion he has for actors, subjects, or music. With both volumes of 'Kill Bill', he's managed to play homage to the many things he's loved when watching films. From the landscapes to the music and finally to the actors, never before has a sequel been so different yet better.

Superbly written and acted, Kill Bill Vol.2 outpaces its predecessor by a satisfying margin.

As we know, or should know, from the first volume, Uma Thurman plays The Bride who woke up from a four year coma after being left for dead in a bar by her former colleagues. Back in form, she hunted and killed two of the four, and all that's left are Budd a.k.a. Side Winder (Madsen) and Elle Driver a.k.a. California Mountain Snake (Hannah) before she can get to Bill (Carradine). As The Bride starts the film off, we get to see exactly what happened on that fateful day when she was about to get married and her life was turned upside down. We are now introduced to Bill, whose voice and hands were only seen and heard in the first film. In a long discussion, and one of many long discussions within the film, Bill and The Bride go over why she had to leave him and the group; and very much like the first film, the film goes back and forth in time sequences. As the film goes in chapters, we move on to the present as The Bride seeks out Budd, but he seems to have been aware of her arrival and very ready for her. This is where the great Pei Mei character of the old Shaw Brothers films comes in. When Budd puts The Bride in a position where no man can escape, flashbacks takes the viewer to when The Bride was brought to Pei Mei to learn the art of Kung Fu. 'Master Killer' Gordon Liu was so good in the volume 1, that Tarantino had to bring him and others in another character.

Pei Mei has an amusing time teaching The Bride the art of his craft as she struggles to put her fists through wood as well as trying to eat using chop sticks. With time, The Bride gets the hang of it, and moving back to the present tends to use those skills in outwitting Budd's treacherous deed. Meanwhile, Elle Driver (Hannah) comes to meet with Budd after he informs her that The Bride can be found in the Grave of Paula Schultz, which incidentally is what one of the chapters is called. Once The Bride comes back for her vengeance, she too learns that Elle was also a student of Pei Mei. If you thought that the fighting scenes between Uma and Vivica A. Fox (Vernita Green a.k.a. Copperhead) or even Uma and Lucy Liu (O-Ren Ishi a.k.a. Cottonmouth) in Volume 1 was great, wait until you see this film when The Bride and Elle Driver throw down. It will blow your mind. It shouldn't be a secret that the final stage in this film would be the inevitable showdown between The Bride aka Beatrix Kiddo and Bill.

Whereas Volume 1 focused a lot on the enormous fight scenes and the cinematography, the beauty is seeing Volume 2 is the actors. Never has a sequel been so totally different, yet achieves much more praise in its attempt to capture the heart of many genres that have been long forgotten. As previously mentioned, Tarantino loves to put his passion into his films, and yes, he does the same here. If he's a fan of your work, he wants it or you displayed. It's so good to see Gordon Liu back on the big screen again. If you are a fan of the Kung Fu action flicks, then you would have seen Liu at his best when he did 'Master Killer' aka 'The 36th Chamber of Shaolin'. The film is still considered to be among the best of the Shaw Brothers film. The Pei Mei character he plays was always known as the villain in most of his films and Liu captures some of the essence in the way he loves to humiliate The Bride. A lot of credit must be given to cinematographer Robert Richardson for arranging the black and white scenes to reflect the old school traditions of the martial arts pictures. In Volume 1, he did the same when focusing on Japan and legendary Japanese star Sonny Chiba and the sword. Everyone in the film is having the best role they've had in years starting with Uma. Sure, she's been Oscar-nominated for another film, but with this film, she is The Bride. Her strengths and weaknesses are explored physically and mentally and Uma shows it convincingly on screen. This is easily the best thing Carradine has done since his 'Kung-Fu' TV series. One could make the argument that his character is like evil twin brother of Kwai Chang Caine. As the villain, Carradine's Bill is not as one-sided as the premise would lead to believe. Tarantino has written a clever script in which nothing is predictable and the long dialogue between the actors adds to the substance of the film. The film may not have the same riveting and colorful effect as Volume 1, but it does present fine acting and a magnificent way of filmmaking.