One of the things I admire the most about Quentin Tarantino's writing, which is particularly evident in Kill Bill: Volume 1, is his ability to seamlessly combine the comedic with the dramatic, and the slow-paced with the fast-paced. A great example of the former is the scene where the bride, as she is still known at this point, wakes up from a coma, and taps the side of her head with a hilarious 'plink, plink,' and in a matter of seconds, discovers that her unborn daughter is gone, a moment that is perhaps the most intense and dramatic out of either installment. Where volume 1 is a delicate balance of action, comedy, camp, and melodrama, volume 2 serves, and succeeds in spades, to provide context for all of this.
Where the characters of volume 1 are broad characterizations who are defined by their weapons, sins, or killer instinct, volume 2 stays true to its spaghetti-western form by revealing its principals through their dialogue and routine. We follow Budd, for example, into his strip club job and watch him get chewed out by his boss, and immediately after, to add insult to injury, instructed by a stripper to fix a clogged toilet. Elle Driver answers her cellphone as if Bill is the only one to ever call it and Googles all of her cold-blooded dialogue. She tries to pose while readying her sword in a confined space and hits a hanging lamp. Bill plays with toy guns and makes sandwiches for his daughter. These are the sides of movie villains that most movies won't let you see: fathers, has-beens, and wannabes.
The quirky humor that dominated volume 1 is even more prevalent here, featuring some of the most 'Tarantinoesque' situations to date. During the final confrontation with Bill, I can't help but be reminded of Lance's household in Pulp Fiction, where his wife would sarcastically thank herself for retrieving his cocaine baggies. During the final chapter, there is a heartwarming image of the bride spooning her daughter while the TV playing Shogun Assassins provides an hilarious twist on the traditional mother-daughter bonding moments in film. The fight with Elle is probably the best and funniest action sequence of the entire saga, complete with Jackass-styled humor and an arsenal of weapons including TV antennas, toilets, guitars (which of course, can't be used without the 'El Kabong' sound effect), cans full of chew spit, and lamps.
As in my review of the previous installment, I can't conclude the review without talking about the wonderful use of music. Although the music is less flashy and integral to the action onscreen than in the first installment, the second boasts some teriffic musical sequences, especially the scenes that use Johnny Cash's cover of 'A Satisfied Mind' (which sheds a great amount of light on Budd's past and present) and Ennio Morricone's masterpiece 'L'Arena.' The film also boasts a lot of terrific musical 'stabs' and interludes, composed by Robert Rodriguez and The RZA.
Although it isn't always prevalent in the visuals of the film, volume 2 stays true to its spaghetti-western format, providing loads of exposition on characters who will obviously be inconsequential to the conclusion simply because they contribute to a greater whole. Most action films never show villains stabbing each other in the back and abandoning glamorous lifestyles of, as Bill puts it, 'jetting around the world, killing people for vast sums of money' because most action films are under the impression that audiences aren't interested in seeing that sort of thing. The makers of these films think that the villian should exist exclusively through their personality and their actions in the present, and they should only exist to challenge and eventually be killed by the hero. Kill Bill, as a whole, proves the opposite, that showing the humble origins and mundane lifestyles of killers that aren't normally seen, can be much more satisfying.
Read the second page for Jeff's response to popular grievances with Vol. 2.