Kill Bill: Vol. 2 (Tarantino, 2004)

Uma Thurman’s turn as The Bride might go down as one of the greatest incarnations of revenge ever put to screen, but not because of any wordy diatribes or dangerous action sequences. The Bride’s anguish stems from a blatant and beautiful disavowal of her past Bill and his cohorts cannot accept, nor even begin to understand. While this cycle of revenge begins with a devastating barrage of sword play and kung fu, Vol 2. stresses a more emotional and spiritual reckoning with the past. The Bride becomes a person in Tarantino’s second half of Kill Bill, and it’s a striking achievement due to Thurman’s combination of tenacious renegade and motherly saint. I still prefer Vol. 1 over it’s wordier sibling, mainly because it offers a tighter, riveting origin story for a heroine seeped in moral ambiguity. Vol. 2 gives The Bride reconciliation, due process toward ending a life of torture and heartache. Also, Tarantino shows an increased amount of indulgent flab in Vol. 2, which finds supporting characters mouthing off and story turns existing outside the realm of The Bride. It’s not that interesting seeing Budd (Michael Madsen) be a sad sack, or listen to Michael Parks’ sheriff riff on a bunch of dead bodies. But as Tarantino shifts back to the final showdown, pitting The Bride against Bill in a grueling psychological standoff, he finds the true grit of revenge found so often and with such lasting affects in Vol. 1. The Bride’s final moments with Bill remain relatively short on screen-time, but effectively define her as a person attempting to put the demons to rest, if only after one more heinous murder. So much suffering has occurred, yet The Bride has found her way, her child, and her true calling in life – to be a parent. This ending doesn’t stick like the serial sendoff of Vol. 1, but then again both are meant to be different chapters in the life of one complex shogun assassin.

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