April 22, 2004

Kill Bill Vol. 2

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It seems bizarre to describe the best action movie ever made as wistful, but in Kill Bill Vol. 2, Quentin Tarantino sticks the heart of his revenge epic right on its much mangled sleeve — and seriously, with all the clothes The Bride (Uma Thurman) goes through, how come we never got a scene of her shopping? This is a movie about regrets and relationships. It’s also about nefarious use of the Google search, mystic old guys with smug beards, Mexican stand-offs, and why being able to punch your way through a piece of wood from only three inches away is an important life skill — the movie just wouldn’t be fun if it weren’t.

Kill Bill, believe it or not, is also a coming of age tale. Placed side by side with Vol.1 and taken in chronological order, The Bride’s journey places her in ever more ambiguous situations. In the beginning, her battles are made difficult by the quantity of enemies and governed by rigid laws of honorable combat (O-Ren’s House of the Blue Leaves). But from her encounter with Vernita Green onward, the body count drops as the challenge begins to lie not in the number of her opponents, but in their identity. And in Vol. 2, every character actually has one. All the emotional history and interpersonal-connections missing from the first film are the main concern of the second.

What makes the film so jaw-droppingly amazing (if not Quentin’s best, it’s certainly his most complete) is the way the seemingly disparate elements of character study and blood soaked plot double back on themselves and combine to form a flawless whole. The tension and dynamic power of the movie is born out of the way that Tarantino collects impossible, clich