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Kill Bill: Vol. 2′ proves to be a worthy sequel

Jack Watkins | Monday, April 26, 2004

“Kill Bill: Vol. 2” is the second half-not the sequel-to last fall’s martial arts filled superaction extravaganza. For those who don’t know, the story is fairly simple-The Bride (Uma Thurman) is a former member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad, or DiVAS for short, who, after leaving the group, was a victim of an assassination attempt that left her in a coma for four years. Upon waking up, The Bride goes on “a roaring rampage of revenge,” eliminating, one-by-one, the “Death List Five”-O-ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox), Budd (Michael Madsen), Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and, of course, Bill himself (David Carradine), The Bride’s mentor and former lover who led the DiVAS. At the end of “Kill Bill: Vol. 1,” both O-ren and Vernita had been taken care of, along with O-ren’s “Crazy 88” bodyguards. There are not really eighty-eight people, as Bill explains early in Vol. 2, but fighters who call themselves that because “they thought it was ‘cool.'”The second movie contains less action than the first, relying more on suspense and Tarantino’s trademarked oddball dialogue, which manifests itself in (among other things) a discussion of the Superman mythology and what may be the worst Kung-Fu style dialogue ever. Despite the comedic touch that Tarantino always puts in his films, “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” unlike its predecessor, demands that its audience take it seriously. Tarantino uses a theme of parent and child throughout the movie, developing what was begun in the first movie with the murdering of Vernita Green in front of her daughter and of O-ren Ishii’s parents in front of her. This time, the children in question are The Bride’s daughter, who she believed was killed by Bill, and The Bride herself. Since her own child has been raised by Bill, a twisted family is formed – Bill and The Bride are the literal and functional parents of the girl, named B.B., but Bill also serves as a father-figure to The Bride. This structure suggests the possibility of incest as well as corruption being passed down from generation to generation – as Bill trained The Bride as an assassin, he might also train their daughter. Tarantino’s movies usually bear the evidence of his status as the ultimate fanboy – references to comic books, B-movies and other cult phenomena abound. In “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” Tarantino has stayed true to form by casting former icons Hannah and Carradine, as well as lesser known figures like Gordon Liu and Bo Svenson, but he has also expanded his range by calling upon religious symbolism – there are shades of Dante’s Beatrice in The Bride, who functions as both angel and Fury. Tarantino goes so far as to use tongue-n-cheek Christological symbols, although, since The Bride is no savior, those moments are likely best understood as placing her in the Joseph Campbell “Hero With a Thousand Faces” tradition.