Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Kill Bill Vol 2

I went to see the second half of Kill Bill on Sunday. The short review is that I loved it, some other thoughts follow.

Vol 2 is a more mainstream movie than Vol1 was. It has a better arc and more satisfying conclusion, which is understandable, but it lacked some of the weird comic book energy of the first movie. If you are looking for lots of sword play and another blood bath, it’s not here. Instead this is a more adult movie. (That’s not to say that the meta movie theme that runs through both Vol 1 and Vol 2 isn’t for adults, rather only that the in-your-face action movie part is more adult.) Instead of a simple revenge plot you get a complicated love story, more character depth and more emotion, but thankfully, all that with the absurdity knob still set at 11.

In a movie with a lot of great performances, I think the work of both David Carradine and Michael Madsen stand out. Carradine was noble and sinister and he channels a lot of his old Kung-Fu character Kane’s serenity. Madsen is complicated, pensive even, as Bill’s younger brother. He’s an underachiever of the weirdest sort, A once proud assassin reduced to being an drunken, titty-bar bouncer who willingly performs the most demeaning of tasks.

Daryl Hannah is great too and probably has the best dialog in the film. I think a lot of people will like her scenes the best. They are a good mix of dark humor and action that will appeal to any fan of Vol 1. I guess I just liked the Carradine and Madsen work better because the characters feel more grounded in reality. As evil and sinister as they are they are still believable, I just can’t say that for the California Mountain Snake.

I’ve read some reviews that say this is homage to the spaghetti western, in contrast to Vol 1s’ Asian centric style. I don’t see that at all. Besides the obvious Kung-Fu part that doesn’t fit that description it’s full of cool, silky, black and white scenes that make me think of Uma as Lauren Baccal in some old Humphrey Bogart movie. In fact I would say that characterizing the first films style as Asian was wrong in the first place. It certainly had strong Asian influence but there other styles as well. When you combine the different styles on display in Vol2 you can see it’s just an homage to film in general.

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