Kill Bill Volume Two
At last, the final half of Quentin Tarantino's ode to revenge flicks from the 70's (among other genres and sub-genres) is available for at-home viewing. Kill Bill Volume 1 was reviewed previously here. Now we can learn the rest of the story as The Bride strikes back.
The DVD has a clean layout. Set-up options include languages (English, English DTS, and French) and subtitles, in which the plethora of subtitle options (English, hearing impaired English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and none for the traditional non-anime viewer) frankly surprised me. Either this is going to be the only format for world release or Miramax went out of their way to appease minority audiences in the US and Canada. (Fact: That's why French is an audio option.) We also have scene selection and special features.
The special features are a lot better than the ones we saw in Kill Bill Volume One, partly because there's nothing to hide for suspense. The "Making of Kill Bill Volume Two" featurette focuses more on the characters and plot than the fighting or directing. Music is featured in a live performance of the closing credits theme (as well as another song) by CHINGON, Robert Rodriguez's (of Once Upon A Time In Mexico fame) band at the Kill Bill Volume 2 premiere. The switch to southwestern music is not coincidental; if Volume 1 shows the East, then Volume 2 displays the West with the honor and glory of spaghetti westerns. This is made blatantly clear at the meeting of The Bride and Bill: his TV shows a western gunfight, her TV the beginning of Shogun Assassin.
The soundtrack, if I may drift off-topic for a second, is amazing. I need to buy this. Period. You should too.
Also included is a deleted scene of much discussion on the 'Net -- whether it would be added into the inevitable Special Edition. We get to watch it here: the street fight between the man himself, Bill, and Damoe's student in a mock Bruce Lee scene. (And no, I have no idea who Damoe is either. Just think master martial artist.) It is cool; however, I can understand why it was cut. Bill loses coolness points in winning by trickery, and The Bride simply idolizes him like the adoring student she is. Better to keep him shrouded in mystery until the destined fight between Bill and The Bride.
The story thus far: The Bride (Uma Thurman) was nearly killed at her wedding by Bill and the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. She awakens from a coma, seeking revenge for the death of her unborn child and for herself. In Volume One, O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) and Vernita Fox (Vivica A. Fox) are killed. Three remain until The Bride's revenge is complete, thus setting up the events in Volume Two.
Unlike Volume One, where the plot and world of Kill Bill were being introduced, Volume Two centers more on the characters and history behind the plot of this revenge tale. Tarantino has also made it clear we shifted from exotic katanas to enticing Old West gun culture. Whereas The RZA did most of the score for Volume One, Tarantino passes the torch to his friend and fellow director, Rodriguez, as there is no question he knows how to compose new/old style Mexicano melodies. The RZA does continue his contribution towards the score, but guitar strains overwhelm the kung-fu sounds, remixed with nostalgia.
At almost the same point where the anime segment is in Volume One, we have Tarantino's tribute to the Shaw Brothers, the famous master-versus-student duel where the master shows his pupil just how inferior he (or in this case, she) is. Gordon Liu takes on the role of Pai Mei, the villainous kung-fu master, brought straight out of the 70's. Oddly enough, it also comes at a point where The Bride must draw upon strength from her past experiences and where she has nothing else to do but reflect upon her memories.
Three opponents remain: Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), Budd (Michael Madsen), and Bill (David Carradine). Budd reminds me of why I fear rednecks: they won't kill you immediately. As Bill's brother, Budd also has the same sadistic kindness. He gives The Bride a flashlight to keep her company while he buries her alive, AKA a Texas Funeral. Of all the members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, he is the most realistic yet philosophic. We deserve to die, but she does too. Budd finds his demise by a totem surrogate for The Bride, which seems oddly quick, but appropriate. No katana or knife-throwing here. Just “death by misadventure”.
The battle between Elle and The Bride is clearly the climatic fight of the film. In many ways, Elle is The Bride's true opponent because she desires to be The Bride when she was Bill's top assassin and lover. However, Elle lacks honor; in true villain fashion, she will do anything to win. It's this flaw that leads to The Bride removing Elle's eye, leaving her blind and screaming in a trailer with an angry poisonous viper. Elle is the only Viper member whose fate is left unknown. Perhaps this is another of Tarantino's tributes to the uncertain fate of classic over-the-top villains, or maybe it is left open for Kill Bill 2, the sequel?
Now, only Bill remains, and The Bride (whose name is finally revealed, but not in this review) still does not know that her daughter, B.B., is alive. Imagine her shock when a little girl calls her Mommy when she creeps into Bill's villa apartment. The Bride is then forced to change her purpose. She must become a mother, seeking to preserve life and reclaim her child, the opposite of her previous roles as the death-delivering assassin. Bill is not 100% evil as we once thought. He feels regret for shooting The Bride yet that is his nature. They share a love-and-hate relationship. Bill informs The Bride that she's like a superhero; she's a killer no matter how much she tries to blend into society. He saved her from living a lie. Bill shoots her with a dart containing truth serum, and we witness why she left Bill. The scene with the pregnancy test makes me smile, since that is such a true scene, trying to figure out the instructions. Their honesty with each other is painful, old lovers treading over fragile ground.
The Bride kills Bill. That's not a spoiler, since we all know that he must die, even the man himself. The scene is rather sad and poignant with Bill walking toward the sunset. The movie ends with The Bride taking B.B. with her, then weeping and laughing, crying out, "Thank you!" Whether this is addressed to God or just a happy expression having survived this crucible is up for debate. What is known is that The Bride managed to transform herself from a flat character of vengeance to a fully fleshed out mother.
This was a great movie. Not as much action as Volume One, but the script is full of suspense and dark humor. Dialogue is excellent, and people who enjoyed Volume One will not be disappointed. Of course, we're all waiting for the Special Edition, but this DVD will more than satisfy until then.