Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004) – movie review

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Movie Review by Nigel A. Messenger

Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Lucy Liu, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen
Director: Quentin Tarantino

It’s difficult to review KILL BILL VOLUME 2 without thinking of KILL BILL VOLUME 1 although I have to say right from the start that while VOLUME 2 is a direct continuation of VOLUME 1 it does have a different feel, style and pace. This is not a criticism however, if anything it is a compliment to the versatility of Tarantino.

As with the first volume of KILL BILL this second volume is divided into chapters, but this time there are no animation sequences, it’s all live action. There is some use of black and white but not much, and this probably reflects the fact that there is less bloodshed although there is enough violence to keep the theme of VOLUME 1 going. There is also a great deal more humour in VOLUME 2 which actually reduces the effect of one of the more gruesome scenes which I won’t go into now for fear of spoiling one of the best scenes of the film.

One chapter of VOLUME 2 actually deals with the Bride’s / Black Mamba (Uma Thurman) training with her kung fu ‘master’ Pei Mai (Gordon Liu Jia-hui). It’s a brilliant sequence done in the style of 1970’s kung fu movies including the typical music, camera shots and even the master defeating his pupil by standing, arms folded, on her sword held in mid-air! Tarantino must have watched a lot of kung fu movies to get it this right.

One of the things that binds the two volumes together is the theme of children losing a parent and without going into detail and revealing plot spoilers this is twisted around to outstanding effect in VOLUME 2.

We also get to see what actually happened at the wedding massacre and what started this revenge story off.

Bill’s other assassins Elle Driver / California Mountain Snake (Daryl Hannah) and Budd / Sidewinder (Michael Madsen) get their own sequences in VOLUME 2 but while this film is still about the Bride’s revenge it’s the appearance of Bill (David Carradine) and his scenes which really make the most impression in the film. David Carradine is excellent and really stands out even amongst other strong leading cast. This is a welcome return to film for Carradine who long before Jackie Chan, Jet Li and Bruce Lee was responsible for introducing the martial arts genre into mainstream western entertainment with his cult KUNG FU TV series in the early seventies. Since the end of the KUNG FU series he seems to have been confined to lower budget B movies but now his re-emergence in KILL BILL VOLUME 2 shows what a strong actor he is with his own unique presence.

Combined KILL BILL VOLUME 1 and VOLUME 2 are a unique film experience and VOLUME 2 in particular is a tribute to the seventies kung fu genre right down to the ‘Five-Point Palm – exploding heart technique’, while the overall style is uniquely Tarantino. With the differing pace between VOLUME 1 and VOLUME 2 it will be interesting to see an eventual combined cut of the two films, which Tarantino has said he will do at some time on DVD.

One viewer tip to watch out for in VOLUME 2 is not to walk out on the end credits but to sit through until the final curtain closes as there is a brilliant additional outtake at the very, very end of the movie.

While each film needs the other, VOLUME 2 is clearly my personal favourite for all the reasons I’ve mentioned in this review. KILL BILL VOLUME 2 is not just a film or a sequel – it’s a movie masterpiece.

6 out of 6 stars