Kill Bill, Vol. 2

What's funny about the release of this picture is that everybody's going around saying how much better it is than Kill Bill, Vol. 1 - e.g., how there is more character and plot development. Well, guess what, folks? That's because it's the second half of one long film. Take any movie, cut it in two, release the first half six months before the second, and people will say the same thing.

The thing is, the claim of Vol. 2 being more satisfying is both right and wrong. On the one hand, the story finally kicks in and we get to know more about the vengeful Bride (the game Uma Thurman) and her love/hate relationship with the titular Bill (David Carradine, who gets a lot of screen time in Vol. 2 and proves himself, after all these years, to be a strong, charismatic performer). On the other hand, the nearly nonstop action found in Vol. 1 now takes a back seat to Tarantino's typical talkathons. And that's my main problem with Quentin Tarantino: whether he's being interviewed or he's putting words on a page, the guy just doesn't know when to shut up.

I'll have to retract what I said in my review of Vol. 1: I am glad this saga was split into two separate movies. It would have been excruciating to sit through a single four-hour Kill Bill. There's still a lot of good times to be had: an extended flashback scene where Thurman is being trained by a kung fu master is charmingly '70s-Hong-Kong cheesy, and adds much needed life to the moribund proceedings. Daryl Hannah also goes to town with one of the meanest, nastiest characters Tarantino has ever written. (Both she and Carradine should be down on their knees, thanking their director for the opportunity.)

But taken as a whole, Kill Bill is a mishmash. I accept Tarantino's over-the-top love of B-movies and campy melodrama as sincere, but I wish his work was more about these homages and less about his smirking, ponderous dialogue exchanges. That said, the very worst thing about Kill Bill, Vol. 2 is the appalling puffiness of Michael Madsen's face.