Kill Bill Volume 2 begins with the Bride looking glamerous in a convertible, addressing the audience like an avenging angel out of a 1940s Hollywood melodrama: “When I arrive at my destination, I am gonna kill Bill.” Quentin Tarantino has made a rip-roaring, highly entertaining, extremely enjoyable continuation to “Vol. 1“: a work that flows perfectly from the first film while, at the same time, managing to alter the tone, pacing and even the look of its predecessor.
The Bride is on her way to meet Bill, but before she reaches her destination, we are given a backstory on how she killed the other two members of the Deadly Viper Association Squad. They are Budd, Bill’s brother, and Elle Driver, whom we met, in the first movie. Bill was far more effective as an enigma, an all-powerful force who seems to have an almost inexplicable power over the members of The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Here, with his revelation, Bill isn’t nearly as intimidating. The more he talks, and good God does he talk, the more I wished for The Bride to at least slice his tongue off. The martial-arts overkill that reduced the first film to a brilliant toy is replaced here with a more discursive yet oddly focused and confident approach.
What’s missing, and this is bound to disappoint fans of the first part, are the fights. There is very little actual swordplay, and none of the demented set pieces that gave the first film its insane energy. “Vol. 1” was ingenious mayhem, too, but it burned its fingers on decadence. The new film succeeds by stirring up the embers of what once passed between the Bride and Bill, and by, startlingly, exploring the no-man’s-land of the Bride’s matriarchal impulses.
Now we meet a mysterious white-eyebrowed monk, with a long matching beard. He’s Pei Mei (Gordon Liu), an old man who is a legendary Chinese master in the martial arts. He trained Bill and all of the DiVAS. The movie shows the brutal training the Bride and the others endured to become killing machines. This is very, very awesome, might I add. All roads in Kill Bill lead to the Bride’s face-off with Bill and the daughter she didn’t know she had. Bill puts their kid to sleep with videos of Shogun Assassin. In a lovely touch, the Bride looks pleased. But there is hell to pay. This film delivers, and sadly David Carradine is no longer with us, so this film was a great send off for him. R.I.P.