Violent, slow, satisfying. The overlong sequel to Tarantino’s revenge story picks up where the first left off, and while the final product is artistically pleasing, it falls short in its pacing, exploits both cheesy and drawn out dialogue and sports hateable male characters (and not for the reasons you want to hate them). Recommended? It is good in the context of finding out what happens next and a fair stand-alone film, but it not as engaging as the original.
Just as in the first film, Uma Thurman’s performance as The Bride is impeccable. She takes lines that should come across as cheesy and boring and delivers them with some dignity. She is an actress who is not afraid to get messy or wear her character’s emotions on her sleeve. She just goes with the flow and delivers prominently. One thing that really does not make sense is why we do not find out her name until halfway through this movie. Tarantino seems to have a knack for creating mysterious undertones for absolutely no reason, whether it’s an unimportant briefcase or an unhelpful time lapse. Here, he doesn’t even dance around the fact that the audience does not find out her name until the very end, he takes an effort to prevent us from finding out her name until he finally throws us the bone that we really didn’t need to be denied.
While both Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah play their strong characters with vigour (their fight scene is one of the best among both movies), the same cannot be said about many of the men in the movie. Take Bill, for example. In the first movie, he is set up as intriguing and mysterious. In the second film, when we are introduced to him, he is agonizing to watch while he recites his monologues because of his slow and drawn out delivery. This could be at the fault or misdirection of actor David Carradine, who played the character well, but sat on every word that he said while he spoke. Even his dialogue with Uma Thurman at the beginning of the film was excessively drawn out with long pauses between lines and slow delivery. Take out the excessive pauses and quicken the unnecessarily slow dialogue and suddenly, the movie is about 10 minutes shorter, if not more. Gordon Liu’s Pai Mei is better in this respect, but characters like Michael Madsen’s Budd and the pimp exhibit a similar irritancy, on top of their lack of depth or originality.
The aspects of the movie that are truly commendable are the artistic elements. Tarantino managed to produce his Kill Bill movies like a nightmarish story in the world of Baz Luhrmann, using prominent expressionism resembling Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet and music, colours and choreography that cross time and cultures. While similar attempts may come off as a directionless hodgepodge, the eclectic elements come together smoothly.
The Kill Bill saga is one that would have worked if Tarantino had chosen to have it produced as a two part epic for one viewing, following in the likes of Gone With the Wind, Ben-Hur or Dances With Wolves, as opposed to two separate movies in two different sittings. Doing this would have forced a better pace and only the most important content would be used in the final cut. It would have been set apart by its eccentric cultural references other quirky characteristics. But unfortunately, a long feature as such worried the distributors that audiences would not see a movie of such length so it was split in two. Sequels don’t often outdo the original, and unfortunately; Kill Bill Vol 2 is the prime example of this.