Friday, November 20, 2009

#423: Kill Bill, Vol. II (2004)

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Cast: Uma Thurman, David Carradine, Michael Madsen & Daryl Hannah

(Contains spoiler from Kill Bill, Vol I ... if you haven't seen that, I don't know what's wrong with you)

The Bride continues her quest for revenge. Having dispatched O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green, she is set to finish off the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad: Elle Driver, Budd, and - most importantly - Bill. The twist (as discovered in Vol. I)? She never learned that the child she was holding when she was attacked at the Twin Pines Chapel was still alive.

What sets this film apart from all other 'sequels' is that it in fact is not a sequel. Kill Bill was originally written as one solitary film, but it ended up simply too long. Tarantino did not have the story simply continue through this film. Tarantino has described the two films as the first volume drawing outlines for the characters, but the second volume fills in the lines.

The characters in the story have much more substance in this film. We finally see the tender side of The Bride, as well as an unexpected tenderness in Bill. We also see more of the interactions between Bill, Bud and Elle.

The script is one worth study. The lines aren't written as if they were being told in the real world. They sound more like they are lines being told from a story around a campfire (hopefully voiced by David Carradine). The script - as well as other aspects of the film - gives homage to classics from both Spaghetti Westerns and Kung-Fu flicks. Many of the songs throughout the film are borrowed from Spaghetti Westerns, and many of the characters are drawn directly from classic Kung-Fu films.

The cinematography, like Vol. I, continues to dazzle the audience, but in a completely different way. Leaving the pristine settings of Vernita's house in Pasadena and O-Ren Ishii's Tokyo joint, we find ourselves getting gritty out west, setting kung-fu fights in the confines of a trailer, as well as at the gritty resting place of the unknown character of Paula Schultz.

The film is completely different than its predecessor, but there have never been two films that complement each other so well, leading to sheer awesomeness. If you've never seen these films, I really recommend that you get yourselves on Netflix immediately.

Oh, and read some of the trivia below, there's some pretty cool stuff.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • The chapter "Yuki's Revenge" was cut from filming to accommodate a new chapter, "Massacre at Two Pines" that details the attack on The Bride. An outline of the chapter was to have Yuki Yubari, Gogo's sister seek vengeance on the Bride for killing her sister, Yuki was to be played by Kou Shibasaki who co-stared with Chiaki Kuriyama (who plays Gogo in Vol.1) in the Japanese movie Batoru rowaiaru (2000).
  • The reason that The Bride no longer has the "Pussy Wagon" in Vol. 2 is because in the original script that included the character of Yuki Yubari, Go-Go's sister, Yuki had destroyed it soon after the killing of Vernita Green.
  • The character Pai Mei appears in several Shaw Bros Kung Fu films from the 1970s-80s including Hong Wending san po bai lian jiao (1980) (Clan of the White Lotus). Pai Mei means "White Eyebrow". Ironically, Gordon Liu (Chia Hui Liu), who stars as Pai Mei in this film, starred as the protagonist in Clan of the White Lotus and fought Pat Mei/Bak Mei (played by legendary Shaw Brothers studio actor Lo Lieh).
  • Quentin Tarantino originally intended to only have Pai Mei's lips speaking Cantonese, while his voice would be in English, imitating a bad dub job. Tarantino was going to provide the voice himself. In the end, Tarantino abandoned this idea and Pai Mei's voice is that of the actor, Chia Hui Liu.
  • The Bride never actually says anything to Budd.
  • Robert Rodriguez scored this movie for $1. Quentin Tarantino said he would repay him by directing a segment of Rodriguez's project Sin City (2005) for $1.
  • Bill's apartment in Mexico is number 101, the same as Neo's in The Matrix (1999). The fights in both films were choreographed by Woo-ping Yuen. In addition, room 101 is a reference to George Orwell's "1984", the room where the thing you fear most resides.
  • In the scene where Uma Thurman is being buried alive, the master shot has the pickup's headlights illuminating the graveyard. On the right of the screen, the exhumed body's gnarled hand casts a bunny-shaped shadow on its coffin.

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