Hey folks, Harry here -- here are two other reviews from the screening tonight, let's see if they agreed with me. First, we have Toranaga, let's see what he thinks...
Holy shit! That's all I could think when I walked out of Kill Bill 2 tonight. I was on a high that I rarely feel when I come out of a movie. This movie was absolutely superb, a perfect finish to an outstanding Volume 1. So how do I love Kill Bill 2, let me try to count the ways.
1) The performances. The highlight for me being David Carradine. He just eminates cool in this movie. Calm, cool, very charming, and extremely dangerous. This guy will go from calm to striking like a viper in a heartbeat. And Gordon Liu, in his second role in the movie, as Pai Mei was the perfect Shaw Brothers martial arts master. What can you say? he was the Master. And I loved Uma. Not as much when she is being cool and chatty, but more when she in pain. Emotional pain. That's when her work in this really shines. Michael Madsen and Daryl Hannah are also excellent.
2) The action. Not as much as in the first one, but still great stuff. This movie had the most ugly, hardcore girl fight I have ever seen on screen. Where the fight against O-Ren Ishii in the first one was almost a beautiful scene to watch, with the swordplay in the falling snow, The fight between The Bride and Elle Driver is the complete opposite. Brutal, violent, and ugly in a hot trailer home in the desert. And the finale...like I said before, Bill is quick like a viper.
3) The story. One of the complaints I heard about the first one was the lack of story. That Quinten was just trying to be cool. Well, this one should quiet some of the naysayers (though there will always be naysayers). While there are some great action scenes, there was a lot more background in this one. I felt there was more focus on the relationship between the Bride and Bill. There are a couple of great scenes, one towards the beginning and one towards the end, that are just great one on one diologues between the two. And did I mention how cool David Carradine was?
4) So many great moments. The whole Pai Mei chapter was awesome. Shaw Brothers all the way. It was also one of the most refreshing moments of the movie. There's a buried alive scene, which is pretty damn intense. No visual, just the loud pounding of the dirt falling on the casket. Very claustrophobic. The finales of both fight scenes were awesome. The 4 year old daughter who wanted to watch Shogun Assassin before going to bed. Like most Tarantino movies, plenty of great moments. The score by Robert Rodriguez was excellent. It gave the movie more of a Western feel than the Japanese feel of the first one.
But this movie is great. I am glad that this was released as two movies, and not a single movie chopped up to fit a running time. But speaking of chopped up, I did not see the scene with Michael Jai White, the one that looks like it was shot in an alley, and featured a swordfight with Bill. Heard it was shot, and even saw a clip of it in the trailer, but it wasn't here. Hmmm. But Tarantino did what he set out to do. Make a balls out grindhouse revenge flick. Can't wait to see it again.
And here is the really reserved Pyul MacTackle, who kinda liked it... heh...
Well, my buddy scored me a ticket into what can only be referred to as the premier screening of all cool screenings this season, the first ever unveiling of Kill Bill vol. 2. I'm certain your review is on the way, but as I'm always the guy who takes the big, bad bullets it's quite refreshing to actually have something utterly fucking jaw droppingly amazing to talk about.
Dear God Almighty, this movie ruled. It was a fun, moody end to what will one day be a fantastic, epic, single film. But I can't help but feel glad that, at least for the moment, that these are two separate films. Kill Bill vol. 1 is a frenetic, visceral, sanguine rampage of Olympian proportions, a wham bam thank you ma'am tour through a multitude of grindhouse styles and genres. But love it or hate it, you can't help but notice that the breadth of it's power comes from it's carnage and Tarantino's understanding of Mythology. Many critics' most venomous barbs about the film are true. The story is clichÃ©, the characters wafer thin and the blood pumped out by the gallon. And thus it comes down to a question of taste: whether you think Tarantino did an adequate (or mind blowing) job reinventing the genre's he tangles with or whether you think he missed the mark and painted the screen with ClichÃ© after clichÃ©. Myself, I adored the film, but waited with baited breath to see the second half. In my mind these films could not be separated. Like a great play, I had walked into the lobby at the end of act one and sat around for 5 months to see the second act.
Kill Bill vol. 2, however, is a completely different movie; and yet, unavoidably, it belongs as part of the whole. What Quentin was attempting here becomes abundantly clear in this film, something that really wasn't amazingly obvious in Vol. 1. Tarantino isn't trying to make the end all be all of exploitation films. He's writing a Shakespearian epic and setting it in an exploitation Universe. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying Tarantino is Shakespeare, nor am I saying what he accomplishes is worthy of the Bard. What I'm saying is that what he's attempting definitely falls into that realm. More akin to Titus Andronicus than say Hamlet, this is a four - four and a half hour story (the length of fully performed Shakespearian works) that deals with revenge, love and scoundrels most villainous.
Now give me a moment. I'm sure many readers have suddenly lost control of their jaws and probably their language filters at the notion that I've just offered. Afterall, they've seen Kill Bill vol. 1 and Kill Bill vol. 1 has nothing that would suggest anything remotely Shakespearian. Well, maybe the part where he plays down to the cheap seats.
But Kill Bill vol. 2 changes all that. It adds context to the bitter rivalries, fleshes out the backstories of our four remaining characters and weaves a tragic tale of betrayal, loss, love and, yes, revenge. The body count in Vol. 2 is significantly less than the first, the humor more biting and cleverly Tarantinoesque, and the character depth unveiled here will certainly satiate the appetites that were whetted by the hints offered in Vol. 1. And the tale is a grand one, tragic for not only The Bride, but for the entirety of the surviving cast. While you still may walk out of this hating certain characters (in the way that you're supposed to hate them) you'll at the very least understand what makes them tick, what drives them to do what they do and what makes them suffer for what happened back at the Two Pines Wedding Chapel over four years ago. Sure there are still unanswered questions, but that simply adds mystery to the overall mythology of the film. And this film is abound with Mythology. Just look at the handling of the story of O-Ren Ishii in Vol. 1. By the final frame of Vol. 2, you feel you really know this pit of snakes from the Snake Charmer on down.
And what bloodshed there is in this film is truly a work drawn straight out of the myths of old. Think Oedipus Rex, Gilgamesh, Hercules. These stories are as much the inspiration for the driving forces of Kill Bill as Shogun Assassin, Death Rides a Horse and Rolling Thunder are as cinematic inspirations. It is truly an epic undertaking and one of the greatest examples of experimental film making to ever grace the silver screen. Every death here MEANS SOMETHING. Unlike the piling up of bodies in Vol. 1 under the pretext of reaching one single target, the violence here is more personal, more realistic (to a point of course...this IS an exploitation film) and each one is earned by the forces of karma and storytelling rather than the "Here I am and here you are so lets fight" mentality of the first.
Kill Bill vol. 2 is Brutal, don't get me wrong. What it lacks in bloodshed it makes up for in spades with angst, regret and bitterness. Vol. 2 is the heart and soul of Kill Bill with Vol.1 proving to be merely the flesh and blood of it. Quentin has delivered his masterstroke, adding a world of depth and emotion to what could have easily been a two hour bloody romp of excess.
But for those still howling for my blood with all this talk of William Shakespeare, I take a page from Tom Stoppard who wrote of the Bard in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead "They're hardly divisible, sir - well, I can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and I can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and I can do all three concurrent and consecutive, but I can't do you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory - they're all blood you see." "Is that what people want?" "It's what we do."
And indeed, it's what Quentin does - concurrent and consecutive - and proves himself to be a monumental talent that will no doubt be discussed and debated for years to come. What he's done is nothing short of amazing, and now, nearly ten years after the release of his film that changed and inspired an entire generation of film makers, he's done it again. Expect the next wave of Tarantinoesque films to be coming our way in the years to come, this time with an exploitation bent.
But here's the $64,000 question. Will you like it? Well, that certainly depends on how you felt about the Vol. 1. While certainly not more of the same, I honestly feel there will only be a few "Roepers", those who hated the first film but love the second feeling that it doesn't improve the first one iota, and even fewer that feels that it does. But those who love the first will most certainly love this, even if hard core blood and guts fans may feel the first is superior, if only for it's swordplay, amputations, disembowelments and decapitations.
Myself, I love it, and refuse to pick a favorite or dare say that one is better than the other. They are different. It's a symbiosis much like a great marriage: two halves of one whole, each providing different personalities and points of view that keep the other in check. One simply doesn't feel complete without the other.
How will this play as a single film, cut together as a whole? Well, I'm not entirely sure, but it looks like we'll get our chance. As I've said these are two different films and I'm now very happy that I saw them separately as I'm not sure how the slowdown and major shifting of gears is going to work...but it IS going to happen. Or at least so says one Mr. Weinstein.
While having a much needed cigarette after the film, my buddy ended up smoking next to Harvey Weinstein, who was also choking one down. My buddy, never at a loss for words, congratulated him and told Harvey that he had a great film on his hands. Harvey took a few steps over and began conversing with my friend about the film, what was missing (most notably the Michael Jai White flashback sequence which Harvey said they ran out of time for but would certainly be on the DVD) and the release strategy. Harvey noted when asked about a 2 disc set combining the films that both films would have their own DVD releases, but that the film would be cut together as one single film, an entity all it's own (apparently not simply slapped together) and would not only be released as one set, but it would have a theatrical release.
Now that got me all sorts of excited. Having seen these films as two separate theatrical experiences, I can't wait to see how it will play as one. But you roll it Harvey, and my ass is there in the seat.
A few notes about some nice touches in the film. Quentin gives us a pair of wonderful duel-roles by actors who appeared in Vol. 1. First and most well known is Gordon Liu who was fun as the leader of the Crazy 88's in Vol. 1. Here he's the wonderfully clichÃ© old master who provides a bevy of beard flipping Comic relief and a nice touch of pathos to one of the subplots. Second, and most surprising, was Michael Parks, Sheriff Earl McGraw from Vol. 1, taking a turn as the man who raised Bill, a seedy third world pimp named Estaban who gives us a perfect look into what exactly makes Bill tick.
And the nicest touch of all, the credit sequence, which not only gives us the principles of both films, but also pays homage to the great supporting cast Quentin enlisted to make this film, putting them in order of appearance, rather than order of importance, stressing just how great and diverse this cast really is. It's a perfect end to what I consider a perfect film. Take from that what you will.