So here is the more difficult volume of the two, reviewing this one is a little complicated – do I treat it as a sequel, the second half of a single film, or as a standalone film in its own right? The thing is of course that it is all of these. Volume 2 concludes The Bride’s bloody tale of revenge, albeit being nowhere near as bloody this time around. Instead of the super stylish fight sequences from before we are now dealing with lots of dialogue, character relationships and emotional turbulence. It’s an utterly different film; it’s pacing is slowed right down, the feel has switched to being prevailingly a Western with elements of Kung Fu – an exact reversal of Volume 1, and the focus has switched from glittering surface detail to gritty depth. I will admit that I struggle to see them working as the single film it once was, the feel and focus switches so dramatically that I would have thought it had always been two separate entities. I believe that it’s a great strength of the film that it can be allowed to breathe as a separate piece of work, but then again I wonder whether perhaps I’m just missing the ability to see it as one large film, one that bravely switches tone half way through. I’m not sitting on the fence here, when it’s all said and done I come down on the side where I prefer it having been cut, but this relationship between the two does confuse me and presents, to me at least, an interesting debate. What I do know is that Volume 2 works well at emotionally evolving us with its characters and bringing the two films to a close, it is distinct from the first – it’s certainly not a rehash like many other follow up films, and it succeeds all the more for having its own identity.
Michael Madsen is one of my favourite things about this volume; when he performs Budd’s speech on accepting responsibility for his actions, he brings a layered performance to this scene which caught me off guard and infuses his character with more depth than most others in these two films. This quietly powerful moment seems to have slipped past several other people I know, and I’m normally met with a little confusion over why I go on about that tiny scene so often, but for me it alone raises the quality of the film by several notches. Uma Thurman and David Carradine also give particularly noteworthy performances, especially during the final act of the film. I won’t go into details in order to preserve the spoiler free rating for this review but they both hit their ranging emotional cues straight on, bringing this film round to a satisfactory conclusion.
It doesn’t try to recreate the first – there is no new Crazy 88, but it instead takes the story from a different angle and succeeds at doing so. The second volume is enhanced when played back to back with the first and together they may possibly be even better as the Whole Bloody Affair (Tarantino’s edit that merges the two films back into the intended one film) but we will have to wait and see on that front. The first establishes the world of Kill Bill and then just lets rip and has fun with it, the second then comes along adding in detail so that we actually get to know our characters a little bit, and then feel the emotional punch that we missed in the first outing. It’s an unusual way of cutting up a story and yet somehow it works. I’m just hoping for the rumoured and much discussed third film which I believe would give us a complete depiction of the destructive, painful and pointless cyclic nature of revenge.