Anticipating more from Kill Bill Vol. 2

April 24, 2004, midnight | By John Visclosky | 16 years, 9 months ago

Uma Thurman is indestructible. You can stab her, beat her, bury her, and shoot her and unsettle not one golden lock atop her elegantly coiffed brow. The woman is a walking, talking medical miracle, and it's good thing too, since writer/director Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2 so delights in fetishtically subjecting Thurman to every known form of torture. But Tarantino has been flogging this dead one trick pony for too long now, and Kill Bill Vol. 1 would have been plenty by itself without this derivative sequel that might just as well be a remake.

Vol 2. begins with the wrenching gunshot that violently introduced us to The Bride (Thurman) in the first volume. Thanks to a bullet to the brain, courtesy of Bill (David Carradine) himself, The Bride falls into a coma, only to awaken four years later and violently seek revenge on the five assassins responsible for the deaths of her fiancée and friends. Having already dispatched with O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), a Japanese mob boss previously employed by Bill, and Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), an international killer turned housewife, The Bride is now in hot pursuit of Bill's brother Budd (Michael Madsen), the one-eyed murderer Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and Bill himself.

It's hard not to give away any major plot points, since the only events worth noting in this two-and-a-half-hour marathon are when Thurman either succeeds or fails in killing another main character.

But, I can say this; Tarantino waits an hour before letting The Bride fight anyone at all. An hour.

For a man so creepily obsessed with every square inch of The Bride's body, Tarantino takes a long time to realize that its more fun to watch Thurman beat the stuffing out of someone than to stumble rather ungracefully through his tepid, comic-book thin dialogue. And who can blame the poor woman? The script is weighed down with pseudo-spiritual psychobabble and some overwhelmingly unexhilarating anecdotes about killing pet goldfish and the venom of African snakes.

Even the violence of the film – gloriously, almost poetically idolized in the prequel – is harder to take the second time around. Watching heads pop off bodies like corks from wine bottles, releasing mountainous spurts of blood was so comically ridiculous in the first film that it was almost funny.

The violence in the second movie is nothing to laugh at. Thurman practices punching a wooden board at the behest of oriental martial arts master Pai Mei (Chia Hui Liu) until her hands are bloody and deformed. Another character gets an eye ripped out and is left writhing and screaming in pain. In an almost frighteningly claustrophobic scene, Thurman's Bride is buried alive.

The violence in Vol 2. is not as masterfully overdone as it was in the first film, and it is uncomfortably realistic. Tarantino has sadistically deprived us of the ability to laugh off the violence.

Tarantino's visual flair is, as always, sharp as a samurai sword. He stages scenes with the gleeful immaturity and impatient eagerness of a two year old. But this same energy that helped crisply move along the first film doesn't have enough action to use as a buffer in Vol. 2, and most of the scenes are either too fast, too slow, or just too inane. Tarantino also overcompensates for the lack of back story in the first film with an unremitting abundance of it here.

It would take a die-hard Tarantino fan to find something to love about Kill Bill Vol. 2, and even they might have to see it a few times. Vol. 2 is ultimately an unwelcome and souring sequel to a movie that, as it turns out, really didn't need one.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is rated R for language, torture, eye-gouging, shooting, and basically any cruel torture you can invent.

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John Visclosky. John Visclosky is, suffice it to say, "hardly the sharpest intellectual tool in the shed," which is why he has stupidly chosen to here address himself in the third person. He's a mellow sort of guy who enjoys movies and sharing his feelings and innermost … More »

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