"Kill Bill--Volume II"
Directed by Quentin Tarantino.
Written by Quentin Tarantino and Uma Thurman. Sorta based on the film
Starring Uma Thurman, Michael Madsen, Daryl Hannah and David
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?
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.
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.
Maybe the biggest problem in the first
film as well, the filmmaking of "Vol. II" is gratuitous and
drawn-out to no end...it 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
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.
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
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.
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?
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
"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 bad...man, 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
"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