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Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)
Miramax Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 9/9/2008
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/12/2008
(SPOILER WARNING!!! IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN Kill Bill: Volume 1, DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW, AS IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO DISCUSS Volume 2 WITHOUT GIVING AWAY PLOT POINTS FROM Volume 1!!!!)
Most sequels have a great deal in common with their predecessors. Many sequels share a similar (or the same) story with the original film, and have similar (or the same) characters. Usually, the only difference is the quality of the various films, which, like analog copies, get worse as time goes on. However, Kill Bill: Volume 2 is a very unique sequel in the sense that it has most of the same characters as Volume 1, but is a completely different movie. Writer/director Quentin Tarantino appears to have set out to show that he can squeeze every genre into the two films and Volume 2 represents a quieter side, but not necessarily a less intense one.
In Kill Bill: Volume 1, we met The Bride (Uma Thurman), a former assassin who had attempted to leave her old life behind, only to be shot in the head by her former mentor, Bill (David Carradine). That shooting took place just before The Bride was to be married, and while she was pregnant. Awaking from a coma four years later, The Bride went on a killing spree to get revenge against those who had taken away her new life, and in VOLUME ONE, she tracked down and killed Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu). In between the incredible action scenes which portrayed those killings, we learned a little bit about The Bride's past, but not much.
Those blanks are filled in with Kill Bill: Volume 2. While there is certainly some action in the sequel, this movie focuses more on who The Bride is, and more specifically what her relationship with Bill entails. Also, we learn where her fighting skills come from. In the film, The Bride sets off to kill the two surviving assassins who shot up her wedding rehearsal, Budd, Bill's brother (Michael Madsen) and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah). If she can get through those two killers, she will only have to find and kill Bill. But, whereas The Bride made revenge look easy in VOLUME ONE, as she sliced her way through The Crazy 88's, the going is much tougher in this film, and The Bride faces her own mortality more than once.
Imagine going to a football game where the first half is made up of nothing but offense, and both teams go crazy scoring touchdown after touchdown. Now, imagine that the second half is more of a defensive battle, where there are some field goal attempts, but the outcome is based on who can overcome the struggle on the field. This should give you an idea of how Kill Bill: Volume 1 compares to Kill Bill: Volume 2. With Volume 1, Tarantino seemed to be striving to make the ultimate martial arts action film. We learned that The Bride had been betrayed and was seeking revenge and bang! off she went to kill a bunch of people. That was all that we needed to know and the kinetic action of the film never slowed down long enough for the audience to truly ponder the hows and whys of what was happening. With Volume 2, Tarantino is now going back and focusing more on the story of The Bride. Kill Bill: Volume 2 has one big action scene and one smaller one, but that's it. The rest of the film is made up of dialogue and acting.
And this is where Tarantino could lose a lot of people. For many members of the audience, Kill Bill: Volume 1 was like nothing that they'd seen before. But, like a freight train which suddenly slams on the brakes, Kill Bill: Volume 2 slows almost to a crawl at times, and shows little of the energy which drove the first film. Is this a bad thing? No, but it takes some getting used to, and I must admit that during some of the longer speeches (such as Carradine's), I found myself getting bored. What works in Tarantino's favor is that Volume 1 hooked the viewer and most members of the audience will be dedicated to seeing The Bride's journey through to the end. The film also gets a boost from the acting. Uma Thurman showed that she could truly kick ass in the first film, and here she get to stretch her acting muscles more, and she runs the gambit of emotions, from pain to elation. Michael Madsen turns in a good performance as Budd, and delivers some nice, quiet moments. Gordon Liu, who played Crazy 88 member Johnny Mo in Volume 1, here portrays The Bride's teacher Pai Mei, and gives a very intriguing performance. As for David Carradine, he's good, and rather creepy, but it would have been interesting to see what Warren Beatty (Tarantino's first choice for the role) would have done with Bill. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was a dazzling action film, Volume 2 takes thing down a notch, forcing the viewer to feel. The result isn't quite as exciting, but it is entertaining.
Kill Bill: Volume 2 fights its way ontoBlu-ray Disc courtesy of Miramax Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is incredibly sharp and clear, showing no grain and no defects from the source material. The transitions from color to black & white are very smooth, and the colors look great. The landscape shots show a nice amount of depth, and likewise, close-up are very detailed. The most impressive aspect of this transfer comes when we get a close shots of Budd's trailer, which is comprised of horizontal lines -- this shot shows no video noise. The Disc contains a Linear PCM 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and 6.9 Mbps. As with the Volume 1 Disc, the sound is excellent here. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are very good, and the detail reveals subtle sounds. The surround effects are great as well, especially during action scenes and from music cues. The fight with Elle provides quality subwoofer effects.
The Kill Bill: Volume 2 Blu-ray Disc contains only 3 extras. "The Making of Kill Bill: Volume 2" is a 26-minute featurette which features comments from Tarantino, Uma Thurman, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, and David Carradine. There is a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage here, as well as clips from the film. Tarantino describes the style of the film and how it differs from Volume 1. There is also a look at the fight scenes and the characters in the film. "Chingon Performance from Kill Bill: Volume 2 Premiere" (13 minutes) features Robert Rodriguez's band playing 2 songs. What, Rodriguez has a band and can wail on the guitar? Thanks for making me feel that I haven't done enough with my life. Finally, we have a 3 1/2 minute DELETED SCENE which allows Bill to show off his fighting skills.
Review Copyright 2008 by Mike Long