Kill Bill Volume 2 (2004)
After the theatrical shenanigans of Kill Bill Vol. 1, the Bride returnsand Quentin Tarantino gets to show the last half of his inspired revenge flick. Certainly comapred to the bright, action packed first film, this is certainly a slower and more muted affair.
However, I personally feel that that Vol. 2 is superior to Vol. 1 (just!). Having explored the characters of O-Ren and Venita Green in the first film, Tarantinohas the time to flesh out the far more interesting characters of Elle Driver, Budd and of course, Bill himself.
Certainly this ends up being the film's main strength because David Carradine as Bill is a charismatic, fatherly bastard. His voice is like honey and his bamboo flute (a nice touch towards Carradine's film, The Silent Flute) is beautiful. His words and looks say that you can approach and trust this man and yet his actions are cruel but not without reason. He is the real success of the film on top of further fleshing out Uma Thurman's Bride character with more back story. Daryl Hannah as Elle Driver is an utterly spiteful woman and the fight between her and the Bride is utterly fantastic. Completing the roster is Michael Madsen as the initially pathetic but resiliant Budd, Bill's brother.
This rogues gallery provide a much more compelling series of characters than the entertaining yakuza boss O-Ren (Lucy Liu).
The story also is of Uma Thurman's character taking the fight to Bill and is full of much more desperate moments than the first film, the more serious approach to the violence and threat creating a much more gritty tone than Vol. 1. Having Gordon Liu as master Pai Mei gives a fantastic side to the story of the training of The Bride as well as other members of the assassination group.
I suppose, all in all, although I am a huge fan of the first film and the bright martial arts films it emulates. It is the driven plot and the fleshed out characters that edge Vol. 2 out in front for me. But both together make a superb story, the whole being worth more than each individual sum.