Kill Bill Vol.2 Review
Kill Bill Vol.2 is a great film! Tarantino has accomplished something truly incredible! To be able to combine so many genres of film and effectively merge them into a cohesive unit speaks volumes of this masterwork. There are so many things to appreciate about Vol.2. For those who haven't seen the film yet, my observations contain spoilers so please don't read if you don't want to be spoiled.
The "Massacre at Two Pines" chapter was beautiful and effective. The high contast black and white cinematography from Robert Richardson is breathtaking and Ennio Morricone's "Il Tramonto" playing as Beatrix walks outside the Chruch chapel really adds a gentle warmness to the atmosphere of the scene and wonderfully sets up the introduction of Bill. I was pleased with Tarantino's approach with the dialogue. It was basically Spaghetti Western dialogue with Tarantino humor throw in. It wasn't a full retreat to the Pulp Fiction dialogue which is good because Kill Bill is a different kind of film. The dialogue fit the theme of concept of the film perfectly. The exchange between Beatrix and Bill in this chapter does a fine job of setting up the emotional connection between both characters. I love how the camera pulls out of the chapel to reveal the chilling vision of the DIVAS standing outside with machine guns, ready to begin their carnage.
"The Lonely Grave of Paula Schultz" chapter was another solid chapter. Highlights of this chapter had to be Budd using his shotgun to shoot Beatrix in the chest with rock salt and the burial which followed. Great use of darkness and sound to create the claustrophobic effect of being trapped in a coffin. The horrifying sound of the dirt as it's being shoveled on top of the coffin and the sound of Budd's truck driving away was amazing. The sound design team should get a Oscar nod for that scene. The Ennio Morricone music was also great here.
"The Cruel Tutelage Of Pai Mei" chapter was both funny and great at the same time. This particular Pai Mei was more humorous than the Lo Lieh Pai Mei from the Shaw Brothers films. The dialogue here is great such as this exchange between Beatrix and Pai Mei.
PAI MEI: Your master tells me you're not entirely unschooled. What training do you possess?
BEATRIX: I am proficient in a combination of Tiger and Crane style. And I am more than proficient in the exquisite art of the Samurai Sword.
PAI MEI: (he makes a SNORTING SOUND) The exquisite art of the samurai sword. Don't make me laugh. Your so called exquisite art, is only fit for Japanese fat heads. You really are a silly ass.
Kudos again to Robert Richardson on the outstanding cinematography. He really captured the film style of the Shaw Brothers films. Hell, Shaw Brothers films didn't even look this good. The Chang Cheh zooms, the sound effects, the music and the martial art choreography were all on point. Uma amazes me with her emotional range of acting. Damn, she's a great actress. Her Kung Fu looked credible enough to me. If there was any fault with this chapter I would say it was too short. I wanted to see more training scenes and more of emotional connection between Pai Mei and Beatrix.
The "Elle and I" chapter was brilliant! This is my favorite chapter of Vol.2. Daryl Hannah redeems herself in a HUGE way from her rather wooden acting in Vol.1. She's really great here. The Beatrix/Elle fight ranks to me as the best fight of both volumes with GoGo/Beatrix second. I love the Mexican standoff with both women holding Hattori Hanzo swords and the Ennio Morricone music building to a climax in the background. Great stuff! Budd getting screwed by a Black Mamba was brutal. What a horrible way to die. Elle is a evil woman. I loved how Beatrix squashes Elle's eye between her toes after plucking it out. Everything about this chapter is great.
I had mixed thoughts on the "Face to Face" chapter which is the final chapter of the film. While I loved the dialogue exchange between Bill and Beatrix, the scene where Beatrix first sees her daughter, and the Superman monologue, I was disappointed a little with the actual battle between Bill and Beatrix. Bill's death was anti-climatic. I can understand that Quentin had to trim the fight down but damn. If the fight had to be short a better way to do it would've been like the trio showdown scene in "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly", where you have this music that builds to a climatic then Eastwood shoots Van Cleff and that's that. You could have Bill and Beatrix standing and staring each other down while the music builds then they both run at each other kamikaze style and exchange sword strikes then Beatrix hits Bill with the Five-Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. He dies and that's that. Despite the flaw of the Bill/Beatrix battle the film is so solid that I can overlook that flaw.
I can understand how those who enjoyed the fast paced action of Vol.1 may be disappointed with Vol.2. This was NEVER suppose to be just a Kung Fu film. It's a combination of various genres. I heard many people say the pace of Vol.2 is real slow, but when I saw the film the pace didn't seem slow to me at all. In reality it seemed like the film flew by. In fact, there was a aura of disappointment on my face when the film reached it's final chapter because I knew it was close to being over and I wanted more. Vol.2 manages to enhance the greatness of Vol.1.
In closing, viewing Kill Bill as a complete film it's a great achievement in filmmaking. Oscar worthy performances out of Uma Thurman and David Caradine, great music, super directing, beautiful cinematography, solid dialogue. 5/5