Revenge is a dish best served cold and this week at the movies there’s revenge a plenty. After a long, tense, six-month wait, Kill Bill Volume 2 is the hottest revenge flick ever, building on the comedic ultra-violence of Volume 1 yet adding an element of pathos and philosophy as well.
Kill Bill Volume 1 , with its severed limbs and sprinkler-systems of blood, was really just a set-up, a hook. By the time Bill utters the film’s last line regarding the Bride/assassin. Writer/Director Quentin Tarantino has set the hook firmly. "Is she aware her daughter is still alive?" Kill Bill Volume 2 reels us in and delivers the final blow.
Where the first film lacked dialogue this one exudes it; funny, witty, thoughtful dialogue that acts as a prelude and builds into even more amazing action sequences. The cat fight between Uma Thurman’s Bride and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah, proving she’s not that innocent) is perhaps the most savage and brutal woman on woman battle ever filmed. Where the death of Lucy Lui’s O’Ren Ishii was calm and dance-like, this rumble is more akin to a cage match between two rabid wolverines – real horror show.
Although quite watchable on its own, Volume 2 really builds on the glimpses of backstory we got in the first film and where Tarantino infused a Blaxploitation feel to Vol. 1 the new Kill Bill is more akin to Spaghetti Westerns and ’70s kung-fu flicks.
Much like in the trailer for Kill Bill Vol. 2 , action is second to dialogue this time. But talk is one of genre-bender Tarantino’s strong points and although dialogue is driving the car this time, action’s riding shotgun and the top is down.
David Carradine, who plays Bill, summed the film up as, "A kung-fu samurai spaghetti western love story." It’s all that and more. Seen as a whole, possible since Vol. 1 came out on DVD this week, Kill Bill is one of the best movies of recent years, finding new ways to use fresh, unique characters and established filmmaking techniques to reveal universal truths about age-old ideas like Love, Loss, and best of all, Revenge. The cast is stellar, the camera work superb. Proving that Tarantino is truly the best.
Johnathon Hensleigh, however, is not. He’s the director of The Punisher, the latest comic book turned movie, which also opens this week at the Village 8. The Punisher was one of my favourite comics as a teenage boy. It featured a normal guy with no superpowers who was out for revenge on any and all criminals. It was a comic full of guns and beat downs with not much character arc or underlying messages to get in the way of the carnage. The first Punisher movie (1989) was quite bad and I remember being so disappointed that they didn’t even get the costume right. Well, 15 years later it’s time for another crack at my favourite vigilante and this time at least they got the costume right, as well as the general mood.