01/05/2004. Contributed by Frank Ochieng
The follow up installment of Tarantino's ridiculously sensationalistic sword slashing cinema is welcomed by Frank with eager open arms.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004). Miramax Films. 2 hours. 7 minutes. Starring: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Michael Parks, Gordon Liu, Bo Svenson, Jeannie Epper, Perla Honey-Jardine, Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by: Quentin Tarantino.
The wait is finally over! Several months after the release of writer-director Quentin Tarantino's blood-splattering and pulsating kinetic kung fu caper Kill Bill Vol. 1, the anticipation to the follow up installment of his ridiculously sensationalistic sword slashing cinema is welcomed with eager open arms.
In the revenge-oriented actioner Kill Bill Vol. 2, the outlandish and courageous mayhem of Tarantino's pulverizing and oddly poetic exposition continues where it left off in the original edition by steam-rolling its farfetched and flaunting escapist visual escapades to the ultimate limit. Clearly, Volume 2 is the ideal continuation to force feed this electrifying opus that manages to contain the furious excitement that whet the audience's initial thirst for skillful over-the-top stimulation the first time around.
The confrontational adventures of The Bride a.k.a. Black Mumba (Tarantino's Oscar-nominated Pulp Fiction pixie Uma Thurman) are chronicled after her resourceful and hectic handling of her vivacious adversarial assassins Vernita "Copperhead" Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu).
Now that The Bride (incidentally, we learn that her actual name is Beatrix Kiddo) has exacted her revenging rage on two of the aforementioned Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (D.i.V.A.) members that previously contributed to her intended demise, she's out to finish what she started with the remaining sadistic staff that failed to snuff her out at the alter. More importantly, The Bride/Beatrix has to wade through the likes of her sparring obstacles to reach the main target that put the tarnished bounty on her back in the first place-the elusive and tactical Bill (David Carradine).
Kill Bill Vol. 2 doesn't have the rampaging destruction of the cleverly choreographed fighting sequences as much as its predecessor showcased in all its glorified and goofy-minded gore. In fact, Volume 2 has more of a character-driven aura to it that resonates in terms of the tension-building moments that mount with each percolating dosage of strife.
Still, Volume 2 is undeniably invigorating and intensifying because our harried heroine The Bride/Beatrix Kiddo is determined to delve into the thick of the forbidden unknown while avenging the gruesome and gloomy past that made her the rustic and resilient hitwoman with the ugly grudge so prominent. Hence, she has become quite numbing emotionally in her delusional death-defying mode. Beatrix's idea of redemption is understandably cynical, abrupt, no nonsense, and unapologetic. Certainly the devious Bill and his cohorts stepped on the wrong scorpion to tangle with and now a heavy price must be paid for their diluted defiance.
To quickly give a background for those who haven't had a prior opportunity to see what ticked off The Bride so wickedly in Volume 1, her former boss Bill and his heartless faithful followers created an indescribable carnage in a sleepy Texas town that nearly spelled disaster for Beatrix.
The mission: electing to savagely slay Beatrix along with the attending well-wishers in the quaint, heated dusty chapel. Despite mutilating their victim with a relentless barrage of nasty beatings and a bullet to the noggin, a pregnant Beatrix miraculously survived even though she was left to perish on that deranged day.
Through sheer determination thanks to a miraculous recovery that enabled her to focus on her would-be murderers, Beatrix casually concocted a list of the subject matters that she intends to make accountable for her nightmarish misfortunes of yesteryear. Therefore, her methodical need to dispose of her villainous counterparts is essential as she makes her way down the listing until the showdown results in finally facing the bombastic Bill. The saying "hath no fury like a woman scorned" definitely applies here in the hostile case of The Bride/Beatrix and her penchant for permanent payback.
Before Beatrix can get a decent piece of Bill's scheming hide, she must first dispose of his lingering cronies. Eventually, the persistent Beatrix tracks down Bill's riff raffish brother Budd (Michael Madsen) and runs into some difficulty when Bill's sibling manages to render her defenseless by seizing her lucky samurai sword.
Soon, Budd manhandles Beatrix as she finds herself buried alive in a confining coffin. While looking to escape her current dilemma in that underground claustrophobic container, we're treated to the flashback reminisces of Beatrix's intricate detailed training with her masterful Chinese kung fu mentor Pei Mei (Gordon Liu).
Once Beatrix dodges her plight from trashy Budd, she's onto the trail of bitter babe Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah). Of course Driver is the one-eyed curvaceous and cutthroat cutie pie that actually had a great chance to eliminate Beatrix during her comatose state in the hospital in Volume 1 until Bill interfered and deemed it "unfair" to off her in that sneaky, cowardice manner.
Driver is not too keen on having Beatrix breathe an ounce of fresh air and one could imagine the orgasmic state of mind this venomous vixen must have experienced when pummeling The Bride/Beatrix with animalistic flare in an orgy of blood and guts. An animated fight sequence ensues with the two wily women dueling before the comical climax of having Beatrix hastily show Elle the perverse meaning of seeing "eye to eye" in a riotous and cringing battle scene involving a popped out pupil.
Finally, when Beatrix meets the slick sociopath Bill, things become very interesting from the standpoint of the recollection of Volume 1's ending. If one recalls Bill's reassuring calling card at the end of the first installment, he mentions the fact that he has Beatrix's daughter in tow should she get too pushy in her savvy slaughterhouse tendencies.
Well, Beatrix's kid is now a four-year old named BB (Perla Honey-Jardine) and she's at the centralized mercy of her perturbed parents Bill and Beatrix. The trophy isn't so much serving Bill's horrid head on the platter as much as it is retrieving the treasured child that was ripped from Beatrix's wound four years earlier after that blistering wedding day massacre.
Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a wonderful and towed-down break from the gleefully impish and eye-popping freakish bloodbath of its first half. Volume 1 was terrifically exhausting in the way it playfully tossed about its cartoonish flourishes of ribaldry regarding the overwrought exhilaration of chopped limbs and lifeless carcasses in a prolonged session of a mindless bloodied celebration.
Tarantino took the outrageous liberty of letting it all hang loose and carved an overwhelming niche in the fashionable way he perceives the childhood genres that obviously captured his overactive imagination. Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2 are grandly cheeky offerings that recall Tarantino's ode to the countless blaxploitation, spaghetti westerns, and martial arts flicks that ruled fiercely with unmatched superiority within their given irreverent and frivolous significance.
There's an appreciation for Tarantino's kind of filmmaking that's refreshingly distinctive. What amounts to be brilliantly contagious are the constant pop culture references that accompany the giddy dialogue being uttered with contemptible joy not to mention the usage of music that gives Tarantino's movie projects a flippant and probing personality. One can almost bask in the schizophrenic delivery of his divided film. Volume 1 purposely handed us the circus atmosphere of faceless characters engaging in the extended recklessness of its careless and caustic core.
Yet in Volume 2, the film dares to come full circle and attempt to give a redemptive purpose to the principle players by saddling them with slightly more meaningful insight and substance. Even the film's leading lady finally is given an identity as Beatrix Kiddo as a subtle means to define the completeness of the characterizations and their motivation for being in the middle of this fearless frolicking taking place. The sophistication in Volume 2 is aptly realized as the proceedings take a considerable breather from the inspired nuttiness of the film's original half.
Overall, the cast is seemingly spry and having a splendid time in the manner that they convey the thrilling edginess to Tarantino's warped world of celebrated violence in all its dazzling and defining delirium.
Thurman is absolutely transfixing as the dour diva that spearheads this wondrous and unflinching chopsocky fantasy with a liberating gusto of a feminist firecracker looking to explode on cue. And former Kung Fu television star David Carradine is an unctuous and smooth-talking figurehead that conjures up what is perhaps one of the coolest and calming villains seen in action movies in quite some time.
As Tarantino did with Oscar-nominated has-beens John Travolta in Pulp Fiction and Robert Forster in Jackie Brown, Carradine too will probably undergo a career transplant where this hyped movie will rev up his prospects and bring some noteworthy attention to this almost forgotten icon. Also, Daryl Hannah is exceptionally gamy as the oily blonde bombshell Elle Driver whom impressively matches wits and words with Thurman's cold and distant killing machine Beatrix Kiddo.
Tarantino's tantalizing offbeat epic is a real exploration of rollicking moviemaking that is strident in its winning enthusiasm to convey a ruthless and suggestive commentary about how one clever-minded artist is insistent upon stretching his admiration for cunning schlock cinema.
Conversely, Volume 2 is an elaborate and degenerate dandy of a well-crafted snappy piece of excitable entertainment. This is indeed a rousing and riveting rush that needs to be digested by adventuresome moviegoers who cater to the sinister sensibility of a sharp popcorn pleaser that pierces so gallantly with pleasurable aplomb.
(c) Frank Ochieng 2004
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