Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

Part 2 of director Quentin Tarantino’s epic tale of vengeance ups the tension as The Bride finally slices and dices her way through the Deadly Vipers to kill Bill!

Trailer

Cast

Uma Thurman returns as “The Bride/ Beatrix Kiddo/ Black Mamba”, a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad on a deadly quest for revenge.

Best known to martial arts fans for his roles in the “Kung Fu” television series and Yuen Woo Ping’s “True Legend”, David Carradine finally appears onscreen as “Bill/ Snake Charmer”. Bill is the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, former lover of Beatrix and the father of her daughter. He is the final and eponymous target of Beatrix’s revenge.

“Reservoir Dogs” star Michael Madsen has an expanded role in Volume 2 as Bill’s younger brother “Budd / Sidewinder”. Daryl Hannah also gets more involved in the action as “Elle Driver / California Mountain Snake”.

Having appeared as “Johnny Mo” in Volume 1, Shaw Brothers legend, Gordon Liu Chia Hui guest stars here as “Pai Mei”, the white eye-browed martial arts master of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique. The part is tailor-made for Liu who is famous for his memorable roles in “The 36th Chamber of Shaolin”, “Heroes of the East”, “Challenge of the Masters”, and “Eight Diagram Pole Fighter”.

Cult actors and frequent Tarantino collaborators Bo Svenson, Samuel L. Jackson, Sid Haig, and Michael Parks all have guest-starring cameos.

Plot

Four years before the events of Kill Bill: Volume 1, the pregnant Bride and her groom rehearse their wedding. Bill, the Bride’s former lover, the father of her child, and the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, arrives unexpectedly and orders the Deadly Vipers to kill everyone at the wedding. Bill shoots the Bride in the head, but she survives and swears revenge.

In the present, the Bride has already assassinated two of the Deadly Vipers and seeks out Bill’s brother Budd, planning to ambush him. Budd however is expecting an attack and calls Elle Driver, another former Deadly Viper. Captured and left to die in a particularly gruesome and claustrophobic way, The Bride recalls her martial arts training many years before with kung fu master Pai Mei.

Having made her escape, The Bride finds her to way Mexico for a final confrontation with Bill, but the situation is more complicated than she could possibly imagine.

Pai Mei

Action

Volume 2 marks the onscreen appearance at last of Bill himself, David Carradine. He was of course the star of the hit 70’s TV show “Kung Fu”, a show that perhaps epitomised the martial arts craze at the time in the West, that these films reference so much.

The most obvious homage to 70’s kung fu films is the story of Pai Mei. It references classic Shaolin tales and features Gordon Liu as the White Lotus master Pai Mei. He is a thinly veiled caricature of the famous White Eyebrow master of Chinese folklore, Pak Mei.

Pai Mei is one of the only people alive who knows the ultra-secret Five-Point Palm-Exploding Heart Technique, a take on the Five Fingers of Death and King Kong palm of many classic kung fu films.

The training scenes with Uma Thurman could be straight out of an old Shaw Brothers movie, with scenes of carrying barrels of water up steep stone steps, and the harsh Master putting the student through gruelling exercises. Where Uma Thurman seemed adept with the Samurai sword in Volume 1, during the training sequences, she appears a little stiff when it comes to the fluid wushu movements of the Chinese-style weapons.

Gordon Liu, as you would expect, is very much at home as the harsh, beard- stroking kung fu master. Many elements rip off the training scenes from The 36th Chamber of Shaolin and “Snake and Crane arts of Shaolin”, but no more than the Kung Fu Panda films have done.

During her training Pai Mei teaches The Bride the art of the “three-inch punch” (obviously referencing Bruce Lee’s famous one-inch punch), which has its pay off in The Bride’s escape from a particularly claustrophobic fate!

Uma Thurman vs Daryl Hannah

Much like the opening fight with Vivica A. Fox in Volume 1, the fighting between Daryl Hannah’s Elle Driver and Uma Thurman’s Beatrix Kiddo is a vicious, hard-hitting battle that wrecks every breakable bit of crockery and furniture in Budd’s motorhome. As with the first movie, the lead actresses impressively perform much of the action themselves. Daryl Hannah even recreates a little of the action from her memorable role in the 1982 sci-fi classic “Blade Runner”.

The conclusion of the film sees David Carradine giving perhaps the best dramatic performance of his career. The Kung Fu star has a very brief opportunity to demonstrate some martial arts skills, but it is nothing like his most famous role of Caine!

Stick around after the credits for a gruesome bonus behind-the-scenes outtake!

Summary

Volume 2 focuses much less on the action and is closer in tone to previous Tarantino movies, replete with long, wordy scenes full of colourful dialogue. Indeed, Tarantino himself has said he considers Volume 1 as a kung fu movie, and Volume 2 as a western. Whereas Volume 1 is an Asian movie trainspotter’s delight, Volume 2 will probably satisfy Quentin Tarantino purists a little more.

Even so, this chapter in the saga still has plenty of references for genre fans, especially in the training scenes with Pai Mei. For action fans the highlight is the fight between Uma Thurman and Daryl Hannah. Elsewhere, the claustrophobic tension built in the “buried alive” sequence almost reaches Hitchcock-levels of suspense.

Although both movies are entertaining enough in their own way, they mark Tarantino as perhaps at his most self-indulgent as a writer and director. In movies such as this or even “Django Unchained” and “Reservoir Dogs” (which was heavily influenced by Chow Yun Fat’s “City on Fire”), he never seems to totally nail the Western cowboy genre or Hong Kong action genre. But then again, a “Quentin Tarantino movie” is almost an entire genre in itself, and maybe that’s the point.

Trivia

  • A rock and roll version of “Malagueña Salerosa“, a traditional Mexican song, plays over the end credits. It is performed by “Chingon”, Quentin Tarantino’s close friend and fellow movie director Robert Rodriguez’s band.
  • Martial Arts Choreographer Yuen Woo-Ping was originally set to play Pai Mei, but could not fit it in with his choreography, so Quentin Tarantino considered playing it himself for a little while, before picking Gordon Liu for the part.
  • Pai Mei punching through a wooden plank, leaving a round hole as opposed to regular wood splinters, may be a reference to this ability attributed to several martial arts Masters. Among them is Masutatsu ‘Mas’ Oyama, founder of the Kyokushin school of karate. In martial arts folklore he is said to have punched such a hole in an oak door to grab the wrist of a burglar trying to enter his house.
  • Michael Jai White filmed several scenes in this movie with David Carradine, but these were cut from the final film, due to pacing concerns.
  • For this movie, writer and director Quentin Tarantino wanted to change the genre. Kill Bill: Volume 1 was more a martial arts one and this movie, a western.

Favourite Quotes

  • The Bride: “Looked dead, didn’t I? Well, I wasn’t. But it wasn’t from lack of trying, I can tell you that. Actually Bill’s last bullet put me in a coma, a coma I was to lie in for four years. When I woke up, I went on what the movie advertisements refer to as… ‘A roaring rampage of revenge.’ I roared and I rampaged, and I got bloody satisfaction. I’ve killed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point, but I have only one more. The last one. The one I’m driving to right now. The only one left. And when I arrive at my destination, I am gonna kill Bill.”
  • Budd: “That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die.”
  • Budd: “You’re telling me she cut through eighty-eight bodyguards before she got to O-Ren?”
  • Bill: “Nah, there weren’t really eighty-eight of them. They just called themselves The Crazy 88.”
  • Budd: “How come?”
  • Bill: “I don’t know. I guess they thought it sounded cool.”
  • Elle Driver: “That’s right. I killed your master. And now I’m gonna kill you too, with your own sword, no less, which in the very immediate future, will become… my sword.”
  • The Bride: “B*tch, you don’t have a future.”
  • The Bride: “And what, pray tell, is the five-point palm-exploding heart technique?”
  • Bill: “Quite simply, the deadliest blow in all of martial arts. He hits you with his fingertips at five different pressure points on your body. And then he lets you walk away. But after you’ve taken five steps, your heart explodes inside your body, and you fall to the floor, dead.”

Film Rating: 7/10

What do you think of the Kill Bill films; do you prefer Volume 1 or 2? What would you want to see in the rumoured Volume. 3? Let us know in the comments below; Like, share and join in the conversation on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram.

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Influenced by the movies of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan, Glen began training in martial arts and gymnastics in 1995. He made his first of many visits to Malaysia and Singapore in 1998 to learn Chin Woo kung fu under the supervision of Master Teng Wie Yoo. Glen is the author of "The Art of Coaching" and "Fearless The Story of Chin Woo Kung Fu", and runs a kung fu & kickboxing school in Hertfordshire, England.

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