Hedda surprised me Friday night with a date to see Kill Bill vol. 2. The first film was an amazing amalgam of different film genres. It was packed to the brim with blood, gore, swords, and breathtaking battle scenes. It paid homage in multiple ways to the enormous Japanese anime subculture that is largely unknown to the American public. The only complaint was the minimal plot.
Kill Bill vol. 2 picks up where the first film left off, but not just in the story. These two movies really must be seen together to be appreciated, as the second volume is everything the first wasn’t, and nothing the first was. Only together do they make a whole film. Volume 2 replaces the massive odds-out battles, kung-fu, and swordplay of Volume 1 with 1-on-1 psychological games and thought-provoking banter. Where Volume 1 told you very little about the players in the story, Volume 2 fills in the gaps with lots of back story, flashbacks, and voice-overs. Quentin Tarantino’s risky leap with the epic battles and anime aspects that defined the first volume are paralleled by the creative filmmaking he achieves in the psychological games that play out in the second volume. The grave scene is a brilliant example of this. Where most directors would be shy away from such a scene, Mr. Tarantino recognizes that the absence of music is as important as the most vibrant chords, and is even more powerful when it is part of an entire symphony.
These two movies, considered independently, lacks something fundamental needed for a film to truly great. When taken as a whole unit, however, they become much more than the sum of their parts. Kill Bill vol. 2 is definitely worth watching, but it is not necessary to see it on the big screen. The epic battles from the first are gone, and so is the need to experience it in theater. In fact, the larger role of dialog might make for a better home-viewing experience. Either way, though, watch them both and enjoy some great filmmaking.