By Marc S. Sanders

Kill Bill Vol. 2 offers an entirely different narrative than Volume 1, and that is why Quentin Tarantino is an electrifying storyteller. No two moments seem similar, even if the elements of the scenes (or chapters) seem the same with samurai swords, quick close ups, snap of the finger changes in cinematography and gonzo music cues.

I do prefer Volume 1 over 2 simply because it is a leaner film. This installment has just a little too much fat layered in, such as a storyline focusing on Michael Madsen’s “Budd” character. Not sure it was necessary for a scene where he is getting docked work hours from his boss because he was late. Not sure I needed a scene close to the third act where The Bride meets up with a South American contact before going to meet Bill. The dialogue in a few scenes like these offers nothing and didn’t even bring me the typical smirk I naturally get from QT’s films. They seemed more catered for bathroom breaks during the run of the movie.

Still, there’s a lot of glee and atmosphere in this picture, from a rehearsal wedding in gorgeous black and white with a nice Samuel L Jackson appearance to an enclosed, flashlight lit interior of a buried coffin. Best of all is the centerpiece of the film, The Cruel Tutelage Of Pai Mei (the best scene of both volumes and the salute that sends Tarantino’s love letter for Kung Fu cinema home). I love the Kung Fu Master Pai Mei, easily one of Tarantino’s best characters in all of his films combined. Tarantino works in the extreme close ups that Japanese filmmakers might have used for EXTREME DRAMATIC effect. Everything about Pai Mei is graciously recognizable and hearken back to these movies I’d catch while flipping channels on Saturday afternoon. Frankly, I never stuck with those flicks until the end, but for the fleeting seconds I watched, I got a white robed Kung Fu master Pai Mei to now fully appreciate in Kill Bill Vol. 2.

The Bride could arguably be Uma Thurman’s best role of her career. She’s a great carrier of the Tarantino heroine. The fighting skills she offers and what are deceptively edited in (thanks to Sally Menke) look so natural with her at the lead. You can’t take your eyes off of her, and you love to look at her.

David Carradine is another attraction. It’s rumored that Warren Beatty was up for the role of the sadistic, yet charming, Bill. No way could I see that working out. Carradine was the star of the series Kung Fu. How do you go with anyone else but David Carradine???? Carradine has a gorgeous, gravely stiletto voice that sounds awesome in stereo; deep and guttural. His facial features lend to a history of a villainous, but wise leader.

SPOILER ALERT: I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention QT’s smart imagination for disarming Daryl Hannah’s one eyed deadly assassin, Elle Driver. Find me another movie where an enemy is left in a trailer located in the desert with her remaining eye ripped out while a deadly black mamba snake slithers somewhere nearby. Tarantino closes this storyline by leaving her screaming alone with no eyes…in a desert…WITH A DEADLY BLACK MAMBA SNAKE. Does the audience need to see her die? Definitely not. Use your imagination of this being worse than stranded, and worse than dead. Pardon me but that’s fucking brilliant!

Again, QT’s characters are two dimensional. The Bride and Bill might have a little history behind them but that’s about it. It’s okay though, because this is pulp fiction (pun intended) that comes alive on the screen. No writer/director has ever elevated this kind of material so well.

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