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Miramax Pictures presents
Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

"Looked dead, didn't I? But I wasn't."
- The Bride (Uma Thurman)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: December 15, 2004

Stars: Uma Thurman
Other Stars: David Carradine, Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen, Gordon Liu, Michael Parks, Samuel L. Jackson, Bo Svenson, Jeannie Epper, Perla Haney-Jardine
Director: Quentin Tarantino

MPAA Rating: R for violence, language and brief drug use
Run Time: 02h:16m:48s
Release Date: August 10, 2004
UPC: 786936245783
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+B+A C+

DVD Review

Quentin Tarantino is sort of like the filmmaker version of Stephen King, in that a lot of people may have been drawn into the excitement of the early works, but considered later products to be so much of the same old, same old. While it is true that Tarantino only has a fraction of the film output compared to the long career of novelist King, his name has been dangling out there for what seems like a lifetime, thanks to the long-lasting staying power of visceral films like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction, and even the underrated Jackie Brown.

With his two-part opus Kill Bill, Tarantino has crafted a gratuitously violent revenge film seeped in 1970s martial arts homages, most of which sailed miles over the heads of those not raised on the genre. Though originally intended as one looong film—if you believe the hype—it eventually came to theaters as two separate releases: Volume 1 and Volume 2.

Rightfully so, I might add. They seem like two different films, in tone and narrative. The first installment, which laid the groundwork of the story of Uma Thurman's shot-and-left-for-dead pregnant bride who exacts revenge on the assassins who tried to do her in, is Tarantino without limits, as he turns the violence and bloodletting up to near-parody levels. The story moved around chronologically, as he is want to do in just about every film, and the rich mix of varied visual styles (including a lengthy and bloody anime sequence) really gave Volume 1 the kind of bristling excitement that made you not want to look away for even a second.

Volume 2, still every bit as visually exciting as Volume 1, picks up where the first film left off—more or less—after a "talk to the audience" moment from Thurman's Bride, it jumps back into her mission to track down her would-be assassins (including Michael Madsen and an eye-patched Daryl Hannah) as she slowly tries to work her way up to titular Bill (David Carradine). There is far more character development this time around, and the same non-linear structure, as Tarantino dips quite a bit more into the backstory of The Bride and her strange relationship with Bill, anchored around her brutal training period with the mythical master Pai Mei (Gordon Liu). Thurman's character takes a proverbial beating pretty much non-stop throughout Volume 2, though she always seems to come back for more.

Tarantino builds to the inevitable confrontation, tossing in an oddly appealing matriarchal undertone, but it almost pales to what has come before. There are the signature violent fight scenes (like The Bride versus Elle Driver sword battle), but the high points often are the more unexpected moments, like Michael Madsen, playing one of the assassins as a vile mix of compassion and brutality. He's not in the film all that much, but his character is certainly of the most natural, even if he's a sadistic killer; he's not a cartoon like Volume 1's mace-wielding schoolgirl Go-Go, and when he shares a prickly scene with Hannah's Elle (who falls into the realm of the cartoon villain) it seems almost unnatural.

It's hard to imagine one long Kill Bill, as Volume 1 and Volume 2 play on such different levels, but this one is still satisfying and exciting to look at.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, this Miramax entry more often than not looks impressive, save a few minor quibbles. As in the first film, the intentional use of extreme color correcting, tinting or other assorted stylized effects is reproduced quite well. There is some significant ringing during a few early sequences, but it dissipates, or at least becomes less noticeable. Late in the film, sequences like the ultra-closeup of Daryl Hannah, where you can literally compare and contrast the size and shape of each and every eyelash, make you forget any of those minor grievances.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
English, Frenchyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both of the primary audio tracks (5.1 and DTS) are real treats, filled with the kind of unexpurgated intensity that Tarantino captures so well visually, and it is safe to say that the quality of these two mixes only heightens the experience of Kill Bill Volume 2. The clarity and depth of the whole presentation (DTS or 5.1) is just outstanding, and the use of the surround channels is not overdone, but cranked up for essential moments (say, the burial scene) and kept to an almost understated minimum during other, less robust scenes. The anchor is in the front channels, where both mixes excel, providing a wide, expansive sound field full, of movement. DTS gets the edge for a slightly cleaner and more natural LFE track.

A French language 5.1 track is also included.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 19 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French with remote access
1 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: While there is speculation as to whether the oft-rumored fully-loaded Kill Bill boxset will ever reach the light of day (at least in R1), we're left with a minimal amount of anonymous fluff on Volume 2.

The Making of Kill Bill Volume 2 (26m:03s) utilizes a ton of footage from the finished product, intercut with comments from Tarantino, Thurman, et al. Hardly groundbreaking or revelatory, though I always enjoy watching Tarantino speak, because he always seems on the verge of falling forward out of his chair with excitement.

Chingon: Live at Kill Bill Volume 2 Premiere (11m:32s) showcases a live performance of the music used over the closing credits, including jack-of-all-trades Robert Rodriguez strumming like a madman. A single deleted scene (03m:37s) is also featured, in which Carradine faces off against a group of sword-wielding thugs while Thurman cowers in a doorway. Filmed in that ode-to-chop-socky way that Tarantino seems to adore, it is a tolerable scene to watch, but it appears to have been deleted simply because it doesn't really add much to the overall narrative.

There is a two-page insert written by Andy Klein of Citybeat, expounding on the impact of Kill Bill Volume 2, as well as a separate insert touting a line of Kill Bill action figures. The disc is cut into 19 chapters, with optional subtitles in English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish or French.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

While this is an easy recommendation if you enjoyed the first—if for no other reason than just wanting to know how it all plays out—Volume 2 is more character-driven and a far less violent film than its predecessor. Not that it is altogether violence free (this is Quentin Tarantino we're talking about after all), but when compared to Volume 1 it is almost tame.

Tarantino's continuing and loving cinematic nods to 1970s chop-socky flicks abound, and Uma Thurman proves she can truly take a licking and keep on ticking.

 


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