“I overreacted.”
Bill.

Well, it’s a little late, but here’s a review of the entire film, with the emphasis on Volume 2.

The original Bureau42 discussion of Volume 2 appears here. Volume 1 can be purchased here or here

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Some Guy

Writers: Quentin Tarantino,
Uma Thurman
Jules Feiffer (Neither credited nor compensated. See Low Points)

The Bride…Uma Thurman
O-Ren Ishii…Lucy Liu
Vernita Green…Vivica A. Fox
Elle Driver…Darryl Hannah
Bud….Michael Madsen
Gogo…Chiaki Kuriyama
Hattori Hanzo…Sonny Chiba
Jonny Mo and Pei Mei…Chia Hui “Gordon” Liu

Earl McGraw…Michael Parks
B.B….Perla Haney-Jardine
Tommy…Christopher Allen Nelson
Bill…David Carradine

Premise:

The Bride, a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassin Squad, has her wedding rehearsal interrupted by her former associates. Everyone else present for the rehearsal dies; the Bride ends up in a coma. When she awakes, she’s out for revenge, and her odyssey takes her across an assortment of maligned genres, lovingly recreated by Tarantino.

High Points:

Volume 1: Almost any of the central confrontations, each filmed in a different style. The O- Ren Ishii sequence goes on too long, but it captures its cinematic antecedents beautifully.

Volume 2: Gordon Liu is hilarious as Pei Mei. In general, Tarantino does Asian trash cinema better than its American equivalents.

Low Point:

The ending.

Carradine has iconic status, and he’s not bad as the quietly disturbing Bill. However, he does not convincingly handle the amount of talky screen time he’s given in Volume 2. As for the action sequences, the final conflict and its resolution are an anti-climax. And no, I don’t particularly see the discussions and the ode to motherhood in these scenes as bringing “depth” to the movie.

And one of those speeches irked me. The entire film deliberately cannibalizes certain aspects of cinematic history, and that is okay; that is the point. Bill’s speech on Superman, however, plagiarizes, point for point, nearly word for word, material from Jules Feiffer’s The Great Comic Book Heroes (available Amazon.com
or Amazon.ca, though the current version omits the extraordinary collection of reprinted comics that originally appeared in the hardcover edition. It’s unlikely that version will ever be republished). People are expected to spot Tarantino’s cinematic references. But in the case of the speech, Feiffer really should have received a credit of some kind.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 Basically, this is a revenge picture that deliberately borrows from styles past. The mix is original, particularly in the more playful first half, but the film’s elements are clearly (and intentionally) derivative.

Effects: 6/6. How does one criticize when even the fake effects are what they’re supposed to be?

Story: 4/6:

Acting: 5/6. The actors generally do a good job of being creations of genre, rather than realistic people, and that is the intent. And Perla Haney-Jardine gives an extraordinary, natural performance as B.B..

Production: 6/6.

Emotional Response: 4/6 I enjoyed and recommend this film, but I found it wearying. I do not believe there is enough here to sustain the total running time.

Overall: 5/6. Volume 1 works better as a movie; it’s more obviously playing with genre and conventions. Volume 2 drags in places, and at times takes itself too seriously for what is essentially a living cartoon. I’m thinking here of the undertones in the final scenes, and the harrowing coffin sequence.

Many critics have complained that this film’s two parts drag on, and that it would have worked better rewritten, revised, and edited into a single film.

I’m inclined to agree.

In total, Kill Bill receives 33/42.

Some Final Thoughts

I know we’re not supposed to ask questions like, “how does the Bride finance her rampage?” but couldn’t she have grabbed that million dollars as she left Bud’s?

My young friend Singularity Girl was incensed that the theatre I.D.’d her. I thought it was funny– but there’s no question Tarantino has found fans among the very young, and a good many teenagers will see this movie. I find myself wondering here, as I did after Pulp Fiction; do all of his fans get what they’re watching? What do we do about people who fail to differentiate among the different kinds of cinematic and real-life violence? Hysteria about media violence aside, I really think there are questions to be asked here.