Movie Review: 'Kill Bill, vol. 2'

by Rich Brooks

30 April 2004

Well, folks, we all knew that Bill was eventually going to be killed at the end of the "Kill Bill" trilogy. At least I had been under the impression that it was going to take at least three feature-length films to finally polish off the mysterious leader of this international "Viper" murder-for-hire syndicate. To my surprise, however, Tarantino has decided to allow his superwoman heroine Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) to exact her ultimate revenge in this second "volume" of yet another "pulp fiction" work by the innovative yet highly controversial producer/ director.

It is one of the trademarks of a Quentin Tarantino film to replay the same scene but from a different perspective. True to form, he opens Vol. 2 by revisiting the massacre scene at the Texas wedding chapel, but since I have already reviewed "Kill Bill: Vol 1" on these pages, I won't attempt to reiterate the plot here. This time, however, we actually get to see Bill in the person of veteran actor David Carradine, who was only a voice in the first film.

Vol 2 is much more "talky" and contains far less kung-fu martial-arts action than Vol 1. There is, to be sure, an ample amount of gruesome violence, but there is also an attempt in this second film to flesh out the cartoon characters we see on the screen. The movie is very self-conscious, as a matter of fact, about the relationship between a comic book hero and that hero's real-life alter ego -- that is, the relationship between Superman and Clark Kent. At one point we are told that Superman is unique among these cartoon superheroes because -- unlike Spiderman or Batman -- it is Superman who is real and it is Clark Kent putting on the costume. We are left to ponder in this movie -- and indeed this is the only element of suspense present -- whether the real Uma Thurman character is the cold-blooded killer she plays or the loving wife and mother she longs to become.

Bill's motives are also much more complex than we have been led to believe in the first film. It is a proverbial question whether there is honor among thieves, but there is no question that there is a certain honor among these professional killers. Murder and revenge must be carried out, but it must be done in a ritualistic way that respects the opponent or victim. Beatrix has several opportunities simply to off her mentor-turned-arch-foe, but she must instead kill him in a manner worthy of his status as head syndicate boss.

As I have said, there is not really too much suspense in this movie. Even when Beatrix is shot by Bill's drunken, bushwhacking brother Budd and buried alive in a coffin, there is no doubt in our minds that our heroine will find a way to escape. We also know that she will find a way to work her way up the chain of command by killing all of the henchmen (and women) who stand between her and her target.

While there were a number of jews involved in this production, I did not see a lot of semitical correctness on display. QT in fact shamelessly uses racial stereotypes whenever it suits his purposes and he makes it quite clear in Vol. 2 that our heroine is no feminist. When Beatrix first discovers she is pregnant, she successfully pleads with a would-be assassin to put down her gun and leave in one very funny yet poignant scene.

The final confrontation with Bill is almost anticlimactic, and takes far less screen time than I had anticipated. Vol. 2 has a fairly long running time of 134 minutes, but it doesn't really seem that long in spite of the relative lack of action. The flashbacks to the first film are artfully woven into the story, and the closing credits uniquely refer to both films. While the two "Bill" films should ideally be seen together, Tarantino has made Vol. 2 in such a way that it can stand alone; moviegoers won't miss too much of the story if they haven't seen Vol 1.

Tarantino is not for the squeamish, but the violence in this movie is again stylized to the point of comical. Unlike several other White Nationalist reviewers, I liked the first "Kill Bill" and I enjoyed this sequel even more. It has been noted that QT is no friend of our White agenda, but he is nevertheless a uniquely gifted director and in this case has made another film well worth seeing.



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