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BWN Nerds Movie Review: Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004)

The Nerds decide to keep a measure of continuity and cover Kill Bill Vol 2! Since they rate out of 5; how many palm strikes do they give this sequel?

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The Nerds decide to keep a measure of continuity and cover Kill Bill Vol 2! Since they rate out of 5; how many palm strikes do they give this sequel?

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Nerd Review!  Every week the Nerds give you their take on a different classic from the Nerdosphere.  This week the Dave and Patrick review the 2004 Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill Vol. 2!

The Flick:  Kill Bill Vol. 2

What’s it About:  The Bride continues her quest for vengeance to kill her lover and former boss, Bill.  Unfortunately for her, Bill has been keeping a secret that may force The Bride to rethink her quest.

Metacritic Score: 83

The Nerds’ Take on Kill Bill Vol. 2:

Dave: Kill Bill Vol. 2 continues the story of The Bride/ Black Mamba’s quest for revenge against those who wronged her so badly in Vol. 1. It has quite a different feel to it from Vol. 1. Whereas Vol. 1 contained some truly over the top moments and a lot of gratuitous blood and gore, Vol 2 really has none of that. Instead, Vol. 2 approaches things from a more deliberate, almost psychological, manner. It is still an excellent movie but lacks some of the intangible qualities that made Vol. 1 so unforgettable.

In Kill Bill Vol. 2, we see Uma Thurman’s character escape from being buried alive after she goes after Bill’s brother Budd, who was one of the hit squad of assassin’s who did a number on The Bride during a wedding rehearsal in El Paso, Texas, the event that sets off the entire chain of events on which the two movies are based. Much of what happens in Vol. 2 is actually backstory and answers questions as to what really happened in El Paso that fateful day. This includes Bill showing up at a wedding rehearsal and being passed off by The Bride/ Black Mamba herself as her father. Later in the movie, we finally learn that The Bride’s real name is Beatrix Kiddo, that she and Bill had been quite involved with one another, and that once Beatrix found out she was pregnant, she knew she had to leave the life of an assassin behind for the welfare of her unborn child. Shacking up with a guy named Tommy in El Paso, and trying to live an ordinary life, was apparently unacceptable to Bill and he “overreacted.” Along the way from Point A to Point B, we see Beatrix getting training from martial arts master Pai Mei. This brutally harsh training helps her escape from being buried alive. Elle Driver, another of the assassins on the Death List, actually takes out Budd with a real Black Mamba, eliminating one task for Beatrix. Beatrix and Elle’s sword fight ends with Beatrix removing Elle’s one remaining eye, presumably letting her wander blindly through the desert until she died.

The final stanza of the movie is where things slow considerably. Once Beatrix reaches Bill, she meets her daughter BB. It is a heartwarming reunion offset by the knowledge that things will not end well between Beatrix and Bill. Before the climatic battle, we learn why Bill did what he did and why Beatrix walked away from him. The final fight is really not much of a fight as Beatrix hits Bill with the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, a deadly strike taught to her by Pai Mei, even though Bill was under the belief that he would never teach it to any of his students. Bill, realizing he was wrong and knowing he is dead, shares a final moment with Beatrix, takes five steps, then drops dead. Beatrix and BB, presumably, live happily ever after.

As I said, it is a good movie but moves much more slowly than Vol. 1. As far as completing the story, it is more than fine for that purpose and then some. It is a much more cerebral movie than the first one. That might work for some but not so much for others. Vol. 2 clearly lacked the action of Vol. 1 but, arguably, has a deeper meaning than Vol. 1 as we really get to know Beatrix and Bill, what made them work, and what went so tragically wrong in the end. I know several people who have never watched Kill Bill Vol. 2 and stopped after Vol. 1. Don’t be that person. If you enjoyed Vol. 1, you will likely enjoy Vol 2 almost as much, just for different reasons.

Dave’s Rating: 3.75/5

Patrick:  Kill Bill Vol 2. Picks up the revenge story of The Bride as she attempts to kill the remaining members of her former assassin team and her lover/leader Bill.  Before we return to the revenge tale however, we get a look at why The Bride is out for revenge in the first place.  The film opens with a flashback of the Bride’s rehearsal wedding where Bill and his assassins arrive.  After Bill and the Bride talk, Bill’s team moves in and slaughter the wedding party, with Bill shooting the pregnant Bride just as she tells Bill her baby is his.  From here, we follow the Bride as she attempts to kill Bud, Bill’s deadbeat brother.  The Bride also battles her top rival Elle, before coming face to face with Bill.  Bill has been keeping a secret himself over the past four years.  One that has a devastating effect on the Bride’s quest for revenge.

Much like Vol 1, Kill Bill Vol. 2 is an homage to so many different other forms of cinema.  The flashback scene is told with flair of late 1940s film noir.  The Bride driving her car is a clear nod to the era.  As we move forward to the Bride’s quest to kill Bud, we shift into the feel of an old Western, complete with classic guitar music setting the mood.  But where this film really shines is in Tarantino’s loving tribute to the television series Kung Fu.  As the Bride contemplates how to escape from being buried alive by Bud, she remembers her training under Pai Mei who taught her martial arts.  Everything from the look of the sets, Pai Mei’s costuming, the grainy effect done to picture, rapid zooms, even the sound effects (Pai Mei’s laugh in particular) is there in loving reverence.  David Carradine playing various bamboo flutes throughout the movie, is  a nod to the character he played in the show.  When we return to the world at large we get one hell of a battle between The Bride and Elle before we reach the climactic confrontation with Bill.

There’s a lot more to sink your teeth into on the acting end here as compared to Vol 1.  Uma Thurman runs the gamut of emotions as she channels righteous fury and the love of a mother.  By the end of the film the audience feels her exhaustion and her triumph.  David Carradine basically plays an evil version of his Kung Fu, Caine.  Darryl Hannah is great as the jealous rival Elle to Uma’s Bride.  But for my money Michael Madsen steals the film as the trashy, beaten down by life Bud, brother of Bill. Madsen just chews up every scene he’s in and I love him for it.

Kill Bill Vol 2 moves a little less frenetically than Vol 1., and allows the narrative some time to breathe.  While I prefer the first film to the second, I thoroughly enjoy Kill Bill Vol. 2 in its own right.  Between the two films you get a loving tribute to some of the greatest film genres of all time.  It’s a solid five hours of storytelling wrapped in 1970’s nostalgia.

Patrick’s Rating:  4.25/5 

DPP The conclusion to the Kill Bill story, Vol 2 picks up where the first left off.  The Bride (Uma Thurman) is on her way to “Kill Bill” (we have a title!) as we begin the movie.  We get a little more detail into what has all happened between her and Bill, as we flashback to her wedding pre-massacre.  The Bride was trying to escape her old life, and is marrying someone who is not part of the gang.  As we all know, when it comes to movies, you can never escape your past.  Bill shows up to the wedding…and we know the rest from Vol 1.  We also learn about The Bride’s martial arts training and why she is such a badass.  And finally, as it was hinted to at the end of Vol 1, we find out that The Bride’s unborn child actually survived and was raised by Bill while The Bride was in a coma.  She’s torn during the final face off with Bill, as she’s happy to find her daughter well taken care of, but revenge is still in the air.

Normally found in book adaptations movie epics, where the final movie is split into two parts, Kill Bill is one of the rare pair of movies where you really need to watch both to get the full story.  Vol 2 could potentially be standalone, as it does give flashbacks to what has happened in the past, perhaps enough to give you a full breath of enjoyment.  Vol 2 takes a slight step back from the violence found in Vol 1, bringing back the dialogue that makes Tarantino movies great.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty of violence to be had, but we actually get some development into the characters.  This felt more like a Tarantino movie, perhaps turned up to eleven in the violence.  As a standalone movie, this is a much better film in my opinion than Vol 1.  It’s difficult to give it a much higher grade, knowing this story is tied to the first, which left a sour taste in my mouth.

DP’s Rating: 2.5/5

 

Overall Nerds Rating for Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004):  3.5/5


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