Kill Bill Vol. 2

Yes, this is the stronger movie. It doesn’t have an hour long fight scene (I know, I know, but it felt that long to me). The Pussy Wagon is dead and replaced by Nancy Drew’s blue roadster. There’s no Sonny Chiba and the glorious GoGo only appears in the credits. But, what 2 has is more heart and a lightness in tone, even while dealing with more serious issues than merely revenge.

We begin with a luminous black and white Uma, driving her car to kill Bill. She narrates the flashback to the massacre, and we see the Bride as just the bride, joking with her friends, holding hands with her fiance and wearing her dress to the rehearsal so that she can wear it more than just the one time. She goes outside for air and there’s Bill. We sit on the edge of our seats, watching a lovely and well-acted scene between exes who still love each other, knowing that something horrible is going to happen any second.

We then get to watch the Bride hit the rest of the folks left on her list. But with a twist. Bill’s brother Budd shoots her full of shells filled with rock salt. As the salt burns her, Buddy knocks her out with drugs, sells her Hanzo sword to the eyepatched Elle Driver, and buries the Bride alive. Again, we squirm in agony, knowing she escapes but having to suffer the waiting to see how.

The films flashes back to the Bride’s training with master Pei Mai, played by Gordon Liu wearing fantastic makeup and costuming in the classic style. There’s a nice sparring scene here, and it’s great to see Liu do what he does best and have so much fun doing it.

So, she punches her way out of her grave as taught to her by Pei Mai, and makes her way back to Budd’s. Bad luck, Elle has already killed him, but this leads to the movie’s only girl on girl swordplay in a hilariously gruesome and well-played fight scene. One to go on the revenge list!

Needless to say, the Bride finds her Bill, but gets more than she bargained for when she bursts into his home to see her four-year-old daughter there. Can she kill Bill nowr Will sher

I must complement David Carradine. Who knew he had the talent to be funny and touching and scary and to be self aware enough to let us in on how much fun he’s having being so over the topr It’s the little things he does–putting extra mayo on his sandwich, drumming his toes and calling the Bride a natural born killer while looking at her with love in his eyes.

I also have to give credit to Perla Honey Jardin, playing daughter B.B. She’s just a nice kid. Not precocious, or cutesy, just a kid watching cartoons and eating baloney.

As the end credits roll we see everyone again, with their character’s names and their assassin names. When we get to Uma Thuman, we go through “AKA the Bride, AKA Mommy.” I’m still figuring out why, but this gave me the wig: After all we’ve been through, with the Bride agreeing she’s a killer, with all the gore and violence, it appears she is completely changed and cleansed by being a mother. It’s a sappy, idealized vision of motherhood that just sticks in my craw.

After I saw “Kill Bill Vol. 1,” I felt that for all it’s girl power, there was a streak of misogyny. It felt to me that it was OK to rape the comatose or whatever, as long as vengeance was carried out. Like the vengeance was the “cover your a**” so that the “cool” stuff could be presented. And the act of motherhood cleanses away all the violence with an automatic redemption. In fact, the Bride gives up being an assassin the second her pregnancy test turns blue.

All in all, “Vol. 2” is a more fully realized effort than the first, better paced and greatly enhanced by the presence of David Carradine. His scenes with Thurman just sparkle. It’s well worth seeing, whether or not you have seen 1, and I can’t wait for the DVD with the original edit.

Rating: B+