Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004)
You can also read my original Kill Bill volume 1 review.
So as you know Rikke and I went to see Kill Bill, Volume 2 the other day. I was rather hyped about seeing it actually, being entirely in the mood for exactly the experience that the first Kill Bill delivered with such virtuous unrelenting power. This was even though I had read several reviews that all told me that it would be a distinctly different movie, and boy were they right.
When I walked out of the cinema after seeing the first volume I was quite indifferent towards it. I thought it was too long, entirely without any kind of substance and that whatever the sequel had to offer, should have been included in the first movie so as to not stretch the agony over four and a half hours.
Writing my review for it however, I started to change my mind, and by the time I had reached the end of it I was more or less converted. The reasons for this are many, mostly due to the fact that as I often do when I have seen a movie, I will Google it a bit and see what people are saying about it on IMDB. And to be fair Kill Bill is as such a piece of cinema that is well outside my otherwise rather comprehensive movie experience. When I was younger I used to watch a plethora of really crappy ninja and samurai movies, and once I had opened the floodgates on that I slowly started to get a better understanding of where Tarantino was trying to go.
And here is the plan in all its brilliant simplicity: If you emulate trash-cinema with a love like the love Tarantino displays, noone can criticize the movie. After all it’s supposed to be bad!
Obviously that’s not entirely true, but overall it’s a pretty watertight approach. And before you get me wrong, let me reiterate that I have the greatest respect for Tarantino. Think what you will about his personality, but he knows his shit, that’s for sure. And his love for grindhouse cinema and other niche genre’s that by and large have passed on, is not to be underestimated!
Which leads me to the absolutely best thing I can say about Kill Bill in its entirety. From what I can see, no precautions have been taken to make the film shorter or more accessible to general audiences. It’s all 100% what Tarantino has wanted to make from start to finish, and that is a rarity these days. And while I would personally like to make my own little Phantom Edit of Kill Bill, I just wanted to let you know that I recognize the uniqueness of this, Tarantino’s ‘Star Wars’ so to speak.
And come to think of it, that’s not a bad analogy. Star Wars that is. Just as Lucas used and reused from a broad spectrum of movies to create Star Wars, so have Tarantino digged deep into the recesses of his personal – and I hear quite substantial – library of genre flicks to produce Kill Bill. (a list of possible influences have been compiled by eager fans, and can be found here). Besides the fact that both Star Wars and Kill Bill build on their respective director’s favorite movies, and that they stand as somewhat massive tributes to them, the analogy doesn’t go much further than that.
Because essentially Kill Bill has little original work in it when it comes right down to it. Which really was one of my original points of critique. Of course when you dig into it a little bit, then you realize that, therein lies the whole point. The ultimate postmodern tribute work if you will.
And that’s really what makes Kill Bill such an absolute masterpiece. Yes it’s long and yes it is by and large shallow. Yes it cuts corners very often and borrows mostly everything from other movies. But overall it has been put together with so much love and care that all of those things to some extend are entirely irrelevant.
At least that’s how I think I feel. Though not even Tarantino is untouched by Miramax’s need to sell the movie to as young (and thus as large) an audience as possible, it is by and large exactly what Tarantino wants to see, nothing more, nothing less. Fuck the audience, they’re fickle anyway, what do they know?!
And while I enjoy Fight Club and The Matrix as much as the next man for their tight unrelenting pace and homerun scripts, I can’t help but be somewhat touched by Tarantino’s honesty in making his films.
But that doesn’t really tell you what I think about Kill Bill 2 now does it?
Well, it’s nowhere near it’s predecessor. Not even close. And quite frankly I think it was a mistake to differentiate the two movies to such a degree. Tarantino himself explains that where volume 1 was primarily eastern in its influences, with only minor western thing making an entrance here and there, volume 2 is just the opposite, drawing its influences mostly from spaghetti westerns and whatnot, with the eastern influence staying mostly in the background. And that’s certainly true for the entire picture.
The fight-scenes are almost non-existent and character scenes and long monologues are the order of the day. And some of it is pretty good. I loved the parts with Pei Mei, an old-school ‘training montage’ shot so as to look like those ‘good’ old kungfu flicks from the 70’s. I loved The Bride vs. Elle (a kinetic fight scene if ever there was one, now if only it was 5 minutes longer). Budd was overall a really boring character in my opinion and his whole story could easily see its way out of the movie if it were up to me.
I loved Bill’s Superman speech, quite clever and just the kind of thing that I was hoping for. Unfortunately I found most of the banter in the movie to be stale and for the most part rather boring. Shots with the bride and her daughter linger on and on for ages way past the point where their emotional climax have been reached.
And as I think back on the movie, the image I’m left with – what I feel takes up most of the movie – is Budd’s trailer. Which is some sort of sign that the whole desert thing took way too long, especially seeing as – excepting Elle vs. Bride – that part of the movie was my least favorite.
But you can’t win them all as they say, and while I will undoubtedly come off as ranting, I did enjoy they movie for what it was. It just fell short of the masterpiece that I had hoped for. Not much different I guess, than what Reloaded and Revolutions did for many people who had hoped for them to live up to the original.
Having said all of that, let me just highlight the cinematography. It’s flawless. Period.
It’s worth your time alright, but it’s no volume 1.