When Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited Kill Bill: Volume 1 was released last October, fans of gory ’70s martial arts films found themselves at home in a movie theater for the first time in decades. The first volume of the two-part series took place mostly in Japan, featuring some of the most brutal and bloody swordfights ever put on film.
After a couple months delay, Tarantino returns on April 16 with the finale, Kill Bill: Volume 2. The film picks up right where the last left off, as far as plot goes. But the tone of the second part is radically different. Many Tarantino fans complained about the lack of pop culture-laden dialogue in the first volume, but they will get their fair share of conversation this time around.
Although hamburgers, waitresses, and foot massages are nowhere to be found in this story, Tarantino loads up on dialogue in Volume 2, a sharp change from the all-action, no-talk style of the first film. As usual, the dialogue here is top notch, but moviegoers expecting another bloodbath similar to what they saw in October will be disappointed at first.
There are a few terrific fight scenes, namely one between star Uma Thurman and eye-patched villain Daryl Hannah. But in order to make it that far, viewers will have to be prepared for some long stretches of discourse and character building, two trademarks Tarantino left out of the first Kill Bill.
But even in between fight scenes, Tarantino can still keep the most coldhearted, bloodthirsty action fans entertained with his snappy language and beautiful camerawork. Veteran cinematographer Robert Richardson, a frequent Oliver Stone collaborator and Oscar winner, deserves a ton of credit for adapting his usually gritty dramatic style of storytelling to Tarantino’s absurdist, blood soaked Kill Bill films. Both films look amazing, but the differences between the two are even more remarkable. Where the first volume focused on the characters in the fights and on the sword impacts and blood splatters, the second film looks more at the landscapes and surroundings of the characters.
Tarantino is a flashy director and an occasionally overconfident one, but he still creates brilliant art with all of his films. Even the lackadaisical Jackie Brown, widely considered Tarantino’s worst effort yet, is an above average film that would be a solid feat for most other directors.
With the Kill Bill films, Tarantino has proved himself to be this generation’s top tier director when it comes to violent, technically astounding drama. Tarantino is not the best flat out dramatic storyteller, nor is he a raw action director. But he has essentially created his own mini-genre, and with that comes a devoted fan base that isn’t likely to turn its back on him any time soon.
Look for Kill Bill: Volume 2 to satisfy almost all of the fans of the first movie, and perhaps to bring back some old Tarantino lovers who missed the witty banter and fun monologues. Tarantino’s next film will be Inglorious Bastards, a war drama slated for an insanely optimistic 2005 release. The film probably won’t find its way to theaters until 2006 or 2007, but when it does, Tarantino should be basking in the wake of the excellent Kill Bill films and finding himself on top of American cinema once again.
Shawn Wines can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org