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Kill Bill Volume 2

The Bride is back and she only has three more names on her list. We finally get to meet Bill and see his face for the first time. And not to spoil anything, but she kills Bill. Volume 1 was all action, but now we get to the story. We learn more about the Bride and we get more back-story and character development.  We finally find out the Bride’s real name and suddenly all those cryptic references to Trix and being affectionately called Kiddo makes sense.

The first Kill Bill was an action flick. Volume 2 is mostly exposition and story. There is a very savage fight between the Bride and Elle Driver, they beat the crap out of each other and destroy Budd’s trailer in the process. Daryl Hannah’s reaction to losing her eye is classic. She freaks out, loses all control, and starts flailing and trashing about. It is very realistic and very unsettling.

The most memorable and disturbing scene is when the Bride is caught by Budd and buried alive. If you watch the widescreen version, prior to being nailed into the coffin, the screen is cropped and full frame. Not only does it foreshadow what is to come, but it makes you feel trapped and claustrophobic. When the Bride is put in the coffin, the screen goes dark and the sounds get heightened. You hear each nail being pounded into place, you hear the coffin dragging along the ground and being tossed into the shallow grave, and as the shovelfuls of dirt fall on top of the casket and the Bride’s breathing becomes shallower and quicker, you feel like you are right there with her, being buried alive. It was a relief when she delves into her flashback and you can escape the confines of the pine box.

Her flashback to training with Pai Mei is a fun sequence. It is a good training montage. It provides a little humor and action with learning more about where the Bride is coming from. There is a lot more Tarantino dialog in this movie compared to the previous installment. The Bride has a great conversation with one of Bill’s father figures, Esteban, in Mexico. Budd has a nice moment with his brother. Everything Bill says is important and awesome and terrifying. His first conversation with the Bride right before the wedding massacre shows how loving and dangerous he is. His final great monolog is about Superman and Clark Kent, and even though it is brief, it sums up the themes of the Kill Bill saga.

In the first volume, the Bride kills dozens and dozens of people. She does it skillfully and violently, and with a lot of style. In this volume, she only kills Bill, and she does it quickly and simply, without any real fanfare or build up. Budd almost killed her, but failed. Elle Driver kills Budd with a black mamba. The Bride gets the better of Elle, and leaves her blinded and trapped with the black mamba, but she doesn’t kill her. It is almost the exact opposite of the first movie, but they fit together, they are both sides of the same coin. Volume 1 was a great action movie, but Volume 2 is a complete film and makes the first one even better.

Critically Rated at 16/17

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Kill Bill Volume 1

Quentin Tarantino’s 4th film is his first action film, and it is pure exhilaration from beginning to end. Most two-part movies are all story in the first half, and all action in the second half. Kill Bill is the opposite, the second part has all the story and exposition, and the first volume is non-stop action.

Uma Thurman is a viable action star. She is unconventional but tough. She fights ruthlessly, but also with honor. All we know is that she lost her baby and is on a quest for revenge. We don’t even know her character’s name. In this volume, the character that has the most back-story is Lucy Liu’s O-Ren Ishii. One of the best and most surprising parts of the movie was her japanimated backstory.

Volume 1 has an amazing soundtrack. RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan produces, and both him and Tarantino have a great appreciation for Kung Fu movies, and so their soundtrack works well with the movie. Tarantino has a great ear for music, and it often seems as if the scenes are tailored to fit the soundtrack.

There are some great scenes in this flick, even though it is a bit lighter on the dialog that Tarantino is known for. The Bride vs. the Crazy 88 is one of the best fight sequences in all cinema.  It is a truly epic fight, as she faces off against dozens of ruthless Yakuza, slaughtering all who oppose her.

This was Tarantino’s first movie since Jackie Brown, and his passion for Kung Fu movies is apparent. He is a great director, he absorbs things and recreates them as his own. He combines and warps different genres together to complete one cohesive film. This is a great movie, but only half of the Kill Bill experience. You haven’t even met Bill at this point.

Critically Rated at 14/17

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