If Kill Bill Volume 1 was an excessive, dramatically deficient and ultimately pointless exercise in directorial flexing. Then Volume 2 is the complete antithesis, emotional, inherently dramatic and once again indicative of Quentin Tarantino’s primary strength, which is providing fascinating interpretations of schlocky and often overlooked genre fare. For example, in the last picture, Tarantino paid tribute to Sergio Leone through an Eastern filter with the climactic sword fight with The Bride and O-Ren Ishii. However, he uses Leone here to fuel his dramatic scenes, which give them an extra potency and emotional resonance.
The best example of this is when The Bride confronts Elle Driver before their showdown. Tarantino cuts the sequence like Leone would with intense buildup as well dramatic and lingering closeups. From a narrative point of view, the sequence reveals that Ellie killed The Bride’s master. Despite Daryl Hannah’s cartoony line reading of this revelation, the scene represents Tarantino’s finest melding of Eastern and Western genre material. It effortlessly synthesises dramatic eastern narrative heft and western cinematic form.
Volume 2’s shining virtue is that its characters feel more real and rounded as opposed to one note figures trying to embody a sense of cool. For example, the showdown of words with Bill and The Bride at the end of the picture is remarkable in its presentation of two broken human beings who have an utter admiration and equal contempt of one another.
Their interaction carries extra weight when it is at the service of Tarantino’s primary theme of characters taking on personas and roles. In the opening scene, The Bride introduces Bill as her father to her future husband. These moments crackle with a bitter feeling as the audience knows the outcome as well a slight dark comedic edge that comes from David Carradine’s smeary, judgemental line readings.
However, the most remarkable moment in Kill Bill Volume 2 is a scene at near the end of the picture where The Bride is lying on her bathroom floor, crying and laughing in equal measures. It is an enduring image that illustrates that vengeance is a double-edged sword. It can be both upsetting and soul-crushing, but also satisfying and wholly cathartic.