KILL BILL - VOLUME 2
Reviewed by Lee Medcalf
Uma Thurman, John Carradine, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah
pop quiz, hot shot!
the most important job on a film crew? The Director? Perhaps… The Effects
Guys? Never! The Writer? Well, yeah, but not the answer I was looking for…
The Actors? Duh!
then?” I hear you cry!
Editor: that guy who watches the film in its raw state and takes it and
watches it over and over and over and over, all the time honing and
refining the work to fit both the director’s vision, but also to sharpen
it, and ultimately make it enjoyable for audiences…
movie studios have diminished the editor’s role by extending movies where
there was clearly no need, and indulging the Director to a point of
excess… and why’s that? Simple… Money… an extra long film may not
necessarily make more at the cinema, considering that with extra length
comes less shows per day, but break a film down in to palatable chunks,
with the bits that should have been cut out, and then you have two films,
two release dates, two sets of hype and, in the end, two sets of cash
registers going KerChing!
Its a worrying trend: one that, thanks to the appalling Matrix
sequels actually making money, has perpetuated around the studios as the
next big trend, and it’s kept the armchair cynics shaking their heads
sagely into their copies of Empire… The Matrix sequels were
overlong and pompous to the extreme. Wise heads around pub tables
everywhere now accept that within the two crappy sequels was perhaps the
nugget of one reasonable film, and all agreed that this cynical new
extended-movie-cut-in-two strategy didn't work.
But in the end the back-to-back sequel nay-Sayers had their cynical
thoughts cast aside when Quentin Tarantino announced that Kill Bill,
his fourth film, was to get the similar treatment…
story of the Bride (Uma Thurman) and her wreaking of revenge upon her
ex-assassin team-mates at first had people wondering how or why it would
be set up as two films, until they saw it.
part of Kill Bill may not have been a perfect film, but for
Tarantino fans, and fans of 70's Hong Kong
action flicks, it delivered, and pushed all the right buttons, moving at a
pace, and with a flair, that was hard to deny. By the close of the film,
with The Bride's revenge list growing shorter, and yet with two hours
having flown by, it was easy to see that if we were given more of the
same, as The Bride worked her way through to Bill himself, that this
back-to-back sequel filming thing may actually have some merit.
opens with what is essentially a recap of the reason for the Bride’s
revenge, before returning to the present and following her quest to find
Bill, unaware that Bill knows she is coming. Between The Bride and her
ultimate goal, though, stands Budd (Michael Madsen) and one-eyed witch
queen Ellie Driver (Daryl Hannah). Within minutes it is quite apparent
that the movie is very different from its predecessor. Gone is Tarantino’s
snappy pacing, replaced with lingering "homage" shots emulating Sergio
Leone and any number of Hong Kong
action movies. Gone, too, is Tarantino’s quick-fire characterisation. This
isn’t a bad thing, at any other time, or in any other film, but here it
seems dramatically out of place when all of the characters in Kill Bill
– Volume 1, The Bride included, were little more than 2D action
characters with some cursory motivation. Now we have Tarantino trying to
flesh out characters where none is required, and in some places doing it
for no other reason than to ultimately fill time for a character that will
be dead in less than twenty minutes. Without giving too much away, a
perfect example is a ten-minute sequence dealing with Budd (Michael
Madsen), loosing his job as a bouncer in a strip bar in the middle of
nowhere. It does nothing to enhance the character, it doesn’t especially
elicit any particularly fine performances, nor does it do anything to help
you empathise with Budd. It simply pads out the film, and in any other
movie the scene would have been dumped, and the writer / Director would
have simply described Budd as a looser by having one character simply ask
him "So, you lost your job at the titty bar, then?"
something that happens again and again all the way through Kill Bill –
Volume 2. There are moments that, even as a member of the audience,
you can see where our friend the Editor is so desperately needed, to give
the film a full-on kick up the arse to get it into gear.
isn’t to say that the film is totally irredeemable, far from it. There are
moments of brilliance, which inspire hope that now we’re going to be
getting somewhere, The Bride’s flashback to training with an ancient
master, which gives obvious and enthusiastic nods to movies such as
Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, is
superb, but these moments are few and far between.
of the snappy, highly-polished, media savvy, retro dialogue that Tarantino
normally excels at sounds flat and dull, almost as if he was away that day
and the Producer got someone who made a Reservoir Dogs rip-off film
to write the script… Bill's monologue about Superman is a fine example of
this: where it should have been a sharp critique on how we all hide behind
disguises in one form or another, and how we shouldn't deny to ourselves
who we are, it ends up sounding like an old man reminiscing about how
Flash Gordon was so much better than "that film with the gay gold robot
and the girl with the buns on her head".
the result is one of profound disappointment, Kill Bill - Volume 2
could have so easily upped the stakes, or even settled for giving simply
more of the same, but in the end it proved all the back-to-back sequel
nay-Sayers right again. It ends up leaving you feeling that all you've
really done is sat through the deleted scenes of a Kill Bill
Special Edition DVD.
Bill – Volume 2 is an opportunity wasted, and it will diminish Kill
Bill - Volume 1, and leave you with the feeling that if our friend the
Editor had managed to get in there and have his way then Volume 2
would have been reduced down to simply being an extra forty-five minutes
on the end of Volume 1.
You can discuss this film in
this thread over at Roobarb's DVD