Tarantino Proves Thur-man once more

Kill Bill Vol. 2
Phoenix & Odeon No single figure in recent years has influenced the world of
movie-making as resoundingly as Mr Tarantino. His place in
cinematic history is already firmly assured, thanks to the slap
in the face that his first two films gave to Hollywood and all
its cosy conformity. Following lukewarm reaction to Jackie Brown,
though, he was faced with the challenge of finding a new
direction in order to remain creatively relevant amid the horde
of copycat directors striving for that trademark Quentin
‘cool’. The answer? A hibernation of six years followed
by Kill Bill, the self-proclaimed realisation of his moviegeek
dreams. Volume 1, with almost every scene saturated in pumping
blood and littered with dismembered limbs, showed him taking his
penchant for ultra-violence to ludicrous levels. Yet the audacity
of the battle choreography and the sheer innovation of his
directorial vision made it a relentlessly entertaining
experience. It’s almost hard to believe, then, that Kill
Bill was originally intended to be released as a single movie, so
different are the tone and pace of this second half. Elaborate kung-fu remains the staple of the story but there is
no trace of the cartoonish gore of Volume 1. Instead, Tarantino
opts to give his violence a brutal, palpable realism reminiscent
of his earlier work. Most surprising of all, though, is that the
movie ventures boldly into sentimental territory wholly
uncharacteristic of its director – and die-hard fans will no
doubt be equally shocked that these latter stages are actually
handled with a sincerity which belies their idol’s cynical
persona. Still, credit where credit’s due, it is Tarantino’s
muse, Uma Thurman, who carries these scenes and indeed the whole
movie. She gives another dazzling turn as ‘The Bride’,
which, with its hints of an insecurity and emotional rawness
beneath her character’s icy exterior, saves Kill Billfrom
descending into a mere “roaring rampage of revenge”
with no human interest whatsoever. As she mercilessly ticks off
those last few boxes on her ‘Death List’, the
cliff-hanging revelation of Volume 1 is interwoven into the
story, giving her mission an added poignancy, whilst flashbacks
also shed light on the tangled relationship between The Bride and
the previously unseen Bill. Sadly, though, this still can’t save the film from
ultimately being something of a disappointment when compared to
the first. The ending, in particular, is a definite let-down as
the script simply peters out in dialogue rather than concluding
on the monumental bang Tarantino’s been teasing us to expect
all along. During production, he told the press “I’m
making this movie for me. Everyone else is along for the
ride”. Self-indulgent and flawed as Kill Bill may be,
it’s still one hell of a ride worth taking.ARCHIVE: 0th week TT 2004