In Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Quentin Taratino’s bloody revenge saga comes to a less bloody conclusion, as The Bride (Uma Thurman) confronts her attackers with words as well as swords. Building on the short glimpse of the wedding day massacre in Vol. 1, Vol. 2 shows us the sequence in full. Leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad ˜Bill,’ (David Carradine) visits The Bride during what is revealed to be the wedding rehearsal and after wishing her well, sets the rest of the Vipers on his former love.
Next we see Bill’s brother Budd, (Michael Madsen) preparing to defend himself “and his trailer- from The Bride whose objective is now well known. Budd shoots The Bride, buries her underground and calls the one-eyed Elle Driver to offer her The Bride’s Hattori Hanzo sword for an impressive sum. Whilst buried, The Bride recalls a technique she learned during her apprenticeship with merciless martial arts master Pei Mei, and manages to escape. She returns to the trailer and resumes her mission to cut her way to Bill.
With the second and final instalment of Kill Bill, the viewer is able to see The Bride’s story and Tarantino’s vision as a whole. In Kill Bill: Vol. 1, the glitz of Tokyo and the adrenaline-inducing scenes involving mob-boss O-Ren Ishii, perfectly complement the red hot lust for revenge that The Bride experiences upon waking from her four-year coma. In Kill Bill: Vol. 2, some of this frenzy subsides and the emotional backdrop behind the violence becomes visible. In contrast to the unrepentant slash-fest which saw The Bride cut her way through O-Ren’s army of bodyguards, The Bride is shot, dragged into a coffin and left to save herself out of sheer willpower. The coffin reflects the misery of being betrayed by her former allies and the isolation of her current situation.
The change in tone in Kill Bill: Vol. 2 is achieved by a change of location to the American South and reflected by the excellent original soundtrack. The instrumental pieces by Ennio Morricone evoke a sense of sadness and nostalgia and give weight to characters’ emotional journeys. The characters’ lives are centred on an economy of revenge – passing vendetta’s from generation to generation like they were sweets. They expect it, and even accept it although they will fight to the end.
It is this world-weary knowledge of the revenge cycle which makes the remaining characters’ attempts to survive, seem even more chillingly detached and vicious. Budd is especially nonchalant about his attempt to kill The Bride; he waits for her with a bottle of beer and a shotgun, his pickup truck and shovel waiting outside. Tarantino excels in creating tension in ordinary, everyday situations. In fact, the more ordinary and more commonplace the setting, the more menacing the villain seems. Kill Bill: Vol. 2’s real climax takes place two thirds in, as The Bride and her life-long rival Elle Driver do their best to break each other (and the trailer,) apart. Letting Daryl Hannah channel her inner-psychopath in the tiny setting, breaking the bathroom sink off the wall and pulling the trailer down around her, gives the character the manic bow out she deserves.
Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2 act as either sides of the same coin; one is fast paced, one is slow; one is a martial arts whirlwind, the other a sleepy, southern revenge yarn. On their own, they deal in extremities but together they form a landmark piece of genre-bending filmmaking which manages to pull something symmetrical and cohesive out of a hat full of conflicting styles.