Movie Reviews

bellview--i love movies

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

Movie Awards
2004 Roundup
2005 Roundup
2006 Roundup
2007 Roundup
2008 Roundup
2009 Roundup


"Kill Bill--Volume II"

Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Written by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman.  Sorta based on the film "The Bride."
Starring Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David Carradine. 
Release Year:  2004 
Review Date:  4/18/04


I remember now, soon after the trailer for--no, I'm not kidding--"Anacondas: The Black Orchid" and "Seed of Chucky" that what I was about to experience just might be dogshit.

But, I didn't want to believe it, even as I suffered through some of the slowest moviemaking I have experienced while watching The Bride (Uma Thurman) try to take out her former employer and fellow hitmen in this sequel to last fall's "Kill Bill Volume I."  Now, as I sit here writing about this nearly-complete failure, one has more reason to believe that releasing this as two films was a stretch for everyone involved, none more so than former wunderkind Quentin Tarantino, who has so little actual film on his hands here and my buddy Yac and I thought there was even a stretch of 15 consecutive minutes that could have been completely cut without any loss to the final product (this includes a useless segment where The Bride visits a Mexican brothel in search of Bill).

We aren't that lucky.

In "Vol. I", Bill (David Carradine) tried very hard to kill his top protégé on her wedding rehearsal day, filling her with bullets and then shooting her at point-blank range in the head.  Bill's lieutenants Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox) and Cottonmouth (Lucy Liu) tried hard to put The Bride down after she came out of a four-year coma, and they came up empty; in "Vol. II", we watch as titty-bar bouncer Budd (Michael Madsen) and former DiVAS assassin Elle (Daryl Hannah) take their shots before an inevitable face-off with Bill to end this saga.

Wow.  Where do I even start?

  1. Fight scenes in the first "Kill Bill" were consistently entertaining; the film as a whole was pretty entertaining, even wise enough to throw a super-violent anime into the mix mid-film.  In "Vol. II", there really are no fight scenes, save for a loud slugfest in the middle that lasts about two minutes.  After the blowout sequence at the end of the first film, Tarantino had nowhere to go but down, and he does so in glorious fashion.

  2. The soundtrack for "Vol. II"--a no-brainer home run, one would think, given that it's Tarantino--is fairly bland.  The original music used in the first film is certainly a nice homage to chopsocky films of the past, but the song selection was weak.

  3. Maybe the biggest problem in the first film as well, the filmmaking of "Vol. II" is gratuitous and drawn-out to no really does seem as if Tarantino knows he's got little to work with and tries to eke every last second out of every last shot.  How many times does training master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu) wring his beard after The Bride completes a task?  By my count, it was 14.  I will grant you that it is amusing the first two or three times...but, by the time The Bride is learning to use chopsticks and Tai Pei wrings his beard, you could hear the fucking tumbleweeds in my packed-house theater.

  4. I'll grant you that Tarantino seems to know every little last thing about old martial arts films...but, does this mean we should stop to appreciate his consistent rehashing of film potpourri, or figure out why any of this has meaning?  98% of Americans--just a guess--have never seen any "Shogun Assassin" films.  Most 20-somethings have not seen "Mr. Majestyk", with Charles Bronson.  Besides "The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly", how many spaghetti westerns have you seen?  Some of the kitschy references are interesting in "Vol. II", but they seem to serve almost no purpose.  Will you laugh when Tarantino employs old-school camera techniques (quickly zooming to a character's face, before they unleash a primal scream, for example)?  I'm seeing now why critics--people who, by their nature, love movies that highlight strengths of other films--adore "Vol. II" and why common folks are left dazed and confused by this movie.

  5. Too much David Carradine.  Hey, I like the man's presence in this movie...but, in "Vol. II" he simply has too many lines.  His diatribes near the end of the film drove at least three couples to literally get up and leave the theater, because the ending is so...anticlimactic.  The atrocity of the ending to this film could fill up another whole Bellview.

  6. I knew of his role coming in, but I thought that a cameo very early in "Vol. II" featuring Samuel L. Jackson would either be funny, intriguing, powerful, cool, or just plain entertaining for a scene.  F) None of the above.  In fact, I wonder if Sam even got a paycheck for his work here; something is terribly amiss with Sam the last couple of years, not the least of which is selling out for Pontiac commercials in-between spot work as a piano man.

  7. Suspension of disbelief is a common Bellview rant, and in "Vol. II" my blood almost boiled out of control.  The Bride's escape from a trap involving "Dig Dug"-like skills almost forced me to fling my 49ers cap at the screen.  Somebody got credit for this horseshit?

  8. I'm all for chatty, "deeper meaning" dialogue between characters, but some of the chatter here is just meaningless.  A particularly useless segment comes after we meet Budd and find out he is quite simply a bottom-of-the-barrel thug that is on his way out of life's door.  A conversation between his strip club boss and Budd offers nothing but a quiet-chuckle crack about assholes and a stripper asking Budd to clean the bathroom.  This entire scene--used to paint the backstory of a man that already lives in a trailer outside of El Paso, certainly not challenging Charlottesville for "Top US City" status--could have easily been thrown out, but what does Tarantino want us to know about Budd that we don't already glean from his words?

The actors in "Vol. II" seem to be working hard, and if anything, Uma Thurman really does seem to be on top of her game in the "Kill Bill" films.  But this movie in particular makes me wonder if Tarantino needs to focus on making a solid 120-minute film about one thing, not paying homage to genres that he seems to love while completely forgetting that he needs to string everything about his genre fetishes together.  I have enjoyed reading critics' take on "Vol. II", because if you came out of my theater Sunday night with 200 other mumbling, irritated people, you would'a thought that it was one of the worst films of the year.

Rating:  Hard Vice


Comments?  Drop me a line at


Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

Home | Movie Reviews | Video Roundups | Essays | Game Reviews | Subscribe | Mailbag | About | Search

The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09