[box cover]

Kill Bill: Volume Two

When we last left The Bride (Uma Thurman), she had just sliced her way through two members of her kill list, Go-Go Yubari, Johnny Mo, and the fifty-seven members of the Crazy 88. And after the uproarious, immoral and gonzo first section, the series (which was split into two because of its unwieldy running time) mutates into something else. Something extraordinary. The first film may have been about The Bride hacking through numerous people, but none whom she was that close to or cared about, whereas with Volume 2 the body count is reduced to focus on the three names left on the kill list, and it's a different but no less engaging ride. After the violent introduction that accompanies both films, and some brief remarks from The Bride, the film kicks off with a flashback to the "Massacre at Two Pines," where Bill (David Carradine) set the "whole gory story" in motion. Immediately, Bill and the Bride's relationship is deepened; though we know both what is about to happen and that it's Bill's baby, both characters have a certain longing and appreciation for each other. Sweeping out of the church to reveal the assassins on the prowl, the unavoidable tragedy gains a new sense of melancholy. Then we meet Budd (Michael Madsen), who refuses brother Bill's help, insisting on dealing with The Bride himself. Working at a titty bar as the bouncer, we see that his life has become filled with desperation as he takes his personal licks from his coked-out boss (Larry Bishop, owning his scant screen-time). But Budd is tougher than he looks and tricks The Bride, allowing him to have the chance to bury her alive. The film then flashes to The Bride's training with kung fu master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu, returning from Vol. 1, albeit as a totally different character). Pai Mei is a bastard, but he trains her in the ways she will use to escape, while also allowing Tarantino to pay his Shaw Brothers homage. Budd has promised The Bride's new sword to Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and they exchange unpleasantries until Elle gets what she wants, but she too must have her showdown against The Bride. This all leads into the final chapter, where The Bride must face down Bill. But — as the audience knows — he has their daughter B.B. (button cute Perla Haney-Jardine), and both parties have some unanswered questions before their final mano a mano can take place. It would be easy to repeat what has been said about the first film and its high points: the sound design, Robert Richardson's excellent cinematography, Tarantino's great ear for music, Yuen Wo Ping's brutal and brilliant fight choreography, are still great here. But what makes this the better film of the two is its depth; here we are faced with four characters who are deadly, but also well defined. With solid performances all around, in the end the film becomes an oddly touching love story about two people who love each other, but have done such things to hurt the other, and that hurt so deep, that they have no choice but to try and kill each other. Through these two Kill Bill films Tarantino made the movie-mad film people have been expecting since Pulp Ficiton, the film that incorporated all the genres and filmmakers he loved into a magpie mélange. And yet, shockingly, Kill Bill is not only greater than the sum of its parts, but is also an emotionally effecting genre piece that (especially in this last chapter) nails not just the action but the characters and their burdens, making it a strangely affecting love story about "murdering bastards." Miramax presents Kill Bill: Volume 2 in anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1), and both Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS audio. Supplments consist of "The Making of Kill Bill Vol. 2," "Chingon Performance from the Kill Bill Vol.2 Premiere," and the "Damoe Deleted Scene. Keep-case.

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