Running Time: 136 mins
Kill Bill, Vol 2 isn't the sequel to Kill Bill, Vol 1, so much as it is the second half of a film Harvey Weinstein, the head of Miramax, felt was too long to be commercially viable as a single picture. As such, it is the continuation of the revenge saga in which Uma Thurman, the bride-assassin with the bleeped out name, takes care of the assassins who shot her fiancé, ruined her wedding day and left her for dead. In Vol 1, Thurman takes care of the first two killers on her hit list. In Vol 2, she moves on to numbers 3, 4 & 5. Number 5 being Bill (the object of the imperative in the title).
It is a twisted and intensely violent film.
So if you do not like twisted and intensely violent films, that is probably all the review you require.
If you do like twisted and intensely violent films, there is probably little I might say that would deter you from offering a handful of your entertainment budget over to Quentin Tarantino.
Which leaves me with a dilemma.
Because I must struggle with whether it is ultimately worth the effort to describe the film's emotionally void characters, its ineffective structure and its vapid references to spaghetti westerns and Hong Kong martial arts films, if you are going to see it anyway.
Similarly, I must ponder the necessity of deconstructing the film's details. What do I gain in presenting an analysis of the sophomoric (if not partially plagiarized -- a fact I myself have stolen from The New York Times) monologue about Superman? Will you skip the film if I convince you that this is a tired and lame example of the Tarantino motif of psuedo-academic commentary of pop-culture pointlessness. Would you see something else if I pointed out that The Bride's name is no longer bleeped out, and that in this reveal we come to realize that the bleeping itself is pointless?
Is it worth considering the two volumes as one, too long hodge-podge? Or should they be evaluated on their own merits? The second installment is certainly better than the first. But does that amount to a compliment? Moreover, does it really matter if this collection of cool moments (which are the ingredients of any Tarantino film) cannot ultimately stand in the place of a good story with meaningful characters, if the fans in the audience care more about Tarantino's ethos than his story-telling? I'm not even sure if it is worth considering that Tarantino's quiet commentary on contemporary motherhood might be subtly empowering, if it weren't for the fact that his violence against women betrays a hateful contempt for the opposite sex?
Tarantino's films are complex and provocative. This complexity protects them from quick and easy dismissal. If we didn't like Kill Bill, it's probably because we didn't understand Kill Bill. As commentators, we are left to establish a credible basis for dismissal; we attempt to say, "You see I did understand it, and I am dismissing it anyway.' In that very effort, we have been forced totake the film seriously. And this is probably all a former video clerk could hope for.
You see the dilemma?
It has been said that watching Kill Bill, Vol 2 feels like a 2 hour lecture from a film geek. So at the end of the lecture, do you raise your hand to ask the geek, "What exactly is this mess of Hong Kong action, Japanese Yakuza and Spaghetti Western film homage and why should I care about your endless references?' Or do you tip toe quietly out and ask the cashier for your money back?
Harden Grace is an Associate of the Australian Catholic Film Office.