Revenge may be a dish that's served best cold, but Quentin Tarantino knows how to serve it up hot and spicy. In a “making of” documentary, one of the bonus items included on the Kill Bill: Vol. 2 DVD, Tarantino admits he could have added other elements to his visually exciting sequel -- but decided he had the confidence to make a film focusing strictly on revenge. And, as cast member Michael Madsen points out in the same featurette, “Quentin is the only one who could get away with it.”
According to Tarantino, Vol.1 establishes the “Kill Bill” world and its mythology; Vol. 2 unfolds the Bride’s story. It’s a simple tale of a woman (Uma Thurman) out to destroy members of the assassination team who slaughtered her wedding rehearsal party, leaving her for dead. She’s most concerned about the man responsible for this dastardly deed, her former lover, Bill (David Carradine). Because the Bride was pregnant at the time, she also desperately wants to find her daughter and save her from Bill’s clutches.
What makes this simple revenge tale so compelling involves its stylistic presentation and, as David Carradine mentions in “The Making of Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” its inside look “at the minds and hearts of violent people.” I wholeheartedly agree.
Thurman explains that after her character, a highly trained assassin, gets pregnant, she becomes the deadliest woman in the world. She’ll do anything to protect her child -- even if it means giving up the life she’s led up to the time of her pregnancy. “The Bride is someone who loses and lives to fight again, and she does it in spades,” says Thurman. “This is an intensely female empowerment movie.”
Left on the Bride’s list of people “to take care of” in Vol. 2 are Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) and Bill, of course. Madsen manages to endow Budd with a hint of sensitivity when he delivers the film’s most crucial line, “That woman deserves her revenge.” Hannah is a revelation as one of the most unscrupulous characters seen on screen in ages. She makes it very easy for us to cheer for Thurman during the gory fight scene between The Bride and Elle. As for Carradine, his calm, slow delivery comes across as quite hypnotic. “There’s a nobility about Bill,” says Carradine. “But at the same time he’s one of the most evil people you’ve ever seen.”
Kill Bill: Vol 2, despite its many excellent performances, belongs to Thurman and Tarantino. Besides bringing a bravura physicality to her role, Thurman gives The Bride surprising emotional depth for such a one-note character. And Tarantino sets up his cinematic world with an almost childlike delight. “This one is much more spaghetti Western than Vol. 1,” he declares. Fortunately, he still includes Eastern elements in a sequence featuring Gordon Liu as Pai Mei, The Bride’s demanding trainer. Because Vol. 2 contains more dialogue and deeper exploration of the relationship between The Bride and Bill, I found it more satisfying than Vol. 1 (but I missed Lucy Liu).
Tarantino also made a wise decision in letting Robert Rodriguez, his best friend, do the music for Vol. 2. I’m almost as impressed with his work here as I was with his sensational music in Once Upon a Time in Mexico. It adds significantly to the tone and atmosphere of the movie. One of the most delightful DVD bonus features is Chingon, Rodriguez’s musical group playing selections from Vol. 2 at the premiere party.
Is there a Kill Bill 3 somewhere in the future? There are two daughters who might grow up with a revenge agenda of their own -- so I’m betting on it.
(Released by Miramax Home Entertainment and rated “R” for violence, language and brief drug use.)