Starring: Uma Thurman, Lucy Liu, Michael Madsen, Vivica A. Fox, Sonny Chiba, David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Gordon Liu Chia Hui, Michael Parks
Reviewed by Teri Tom
Rating (a 1 – 6 scale): 4.0
In the current issue of Empire magazine, Quentin Tarantino confesses, “I like fucking with your emotions. How can I make you feel this emotion and then, the next second, this emotion? To me, that’s an audience having a fucking good time. Audiences of the ‘50’s, for the price of a ticket, they wanted to feel every emotion under the sun. And that’s not a bad fucking manifesto for a director.” I don’t know that I felt all the emotions that Quentin intended for me to feel in Kill Bill vol. 2, but you can’t say the man didn’t try to run the gamut. The second half of Kill Bill is much more spaghetti western and less samurai film than its predecessor, and it’s much talkier and less fun. In my review of VOL 1, I appreciated Tarantino’s light touch. He was both reverential but, at the same time, not afraid to poke fun at film genres.
Not to say that this installment isn’t any fun. There’s an-all-out-balls-to-the-wall-trailer-trashing brawl between Daryl Hannah and Uma Thurman with a great gross-out climax. And, of course, hearing Ennio Morricone blasting through a THX system is worth the price of admission alone.
The highlight for me, though, is a sequence showcasing Hong Kong legend Gordon Liu as The Bride’s master, the tough-as-nails, compulsive beard-stroking Pai Mei. Liu approaches the role with the same mischievous glee that made him a star in Return To The 36th Chamber. And film fanatic Tarantino gives Liu’s scenes the full treatment, complete with the same grainy film stock you’d expect to see from a 70’s Shaw Brothers print.
Unfortunately, the last third of Bill 2 is just too chatty for my taste. Maybe Tarantino was again trying to poke fun at spaghetti western clichés with some attempts at cheesy one-liners, but the message and the cheese didn’t to sit too well with me. If he was going for sentimentality or a big dramatic climax, I just didn’t feel it.
All the dialogue, though, is surprisingly made much more palatable by David Carradine’s performance. He has a LOT of lines near the end of this movie, and his gravelly, deliberate delivery saves the end from being a total bore.
While we’re talking about actors, Michael Madsen is engaging as Bill’s pathetic, sniffing, squinty, blinky estranged brother. And Daryl Hannah is deadly funny as the one-eyed Viper Assassin Elle. Unfortunately, Thurman is not too convincing or charismatic as our heroine. Without the assistance of the first film’s Crazy 88’s or anime segments, she’s much too slouchy and gangly to carry this film herself. But I will say she cries well for the camera.
Though not nearly as fun or stylish as Bill 1, Kill Bill Vol 2 is still worth a look.