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Tarantino revisits classic cinema in the flawless conclusion of Kill Bill

Uma Thurman, aka The Bride, rolls onto the black and white set of Kill Bill Vol. 2's second scene in an unmoving vehicle, celebrating forgotten spaghetti western cheesiness, as the heroine retells the plot of the saga's unforgettable beginning.

Prodigal director Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs) revisits the art of superb narrative in the spirit of his preceding works, along with the natural rule of hundreds of great films before his time--in the world of great cinema, the wronged renegades always come back for their revenge. At least in this highly-romanticized world of film, the bad guys always get exactly what's coming to them.

Kill Bill's story unfolds as an overwhelming desire for payback surfaces in The Bride, as she wakes up from a coma that lover Bill brought on with his jealous bullet. Thurman's Bride is also Bill's master assassin, who tries to escape the dangerous lifestyle for the sake of her newly-discovered pregnancy. Instead, Bill destroys his protege's dreams of escape, which undoubtedly leads to a heaping serving of classic poetic justice.

Vol. 2 consists of more of an explanation than the excessively gorrific action of Vol 1., a treat for fans of Tarantino's trademark dialogue and vignette storytelling. The shift was necessary in spackling up all the holes Q.T. tears open with his first can of whoopass, leaving no question behind in the dust of Vol. 2's abandoned deserts.

The film's agenda follows that of The Bride's: to cross off all members of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad from the 'Death List Five.' Vol. 2 has three more to go, foreshadowing less action within the sparsely-scattered brawl scenes between likeable characters.

Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs) plays Budd, Bill's brother, now working as a bouncer at the My-Oh-My strip club. Seemingly the least deadly of the five, Budd thrives on his honky-tonk instincts to keep on surviving alongside the wittier, sturdier female assassins.

The one-eyed viperous villain Elle Driver, played by Darryl Hannah, replaces the Bride in the DiVASquad as most deadly assassin and Bill's main squeeze. Hannah's performance in Vol. 2 is her most hypnotic since Blade Runner, taking a strange turn from the usual romantic sweetheart (Splash) to deadly debutante.

David Carradine plays the infamous Bill, a character inspired by the actor's own starring role as Kwai Chang Caine, the Shaolin priest in the classic seventies TV show Kung Fu, proving to be an vital iconographic piece of Tarantino's kung-fu puzzle.

Shaolin-style martial art star Gordon Liu plays master to the Bride, Elle, and Bill as Pai Mei, the star of the 1978 international hit The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. Liu's enigmatic character, made complete by repetitive beard-stroking and ultra-violent corrective measures, is the best slice of villainous cult addiction since Vol 1's Go-Go Yubari.

But it's no other than Thurman herself that wins over her audience with the vengeful Bride in this "roaring rampage of revenge," as she likes to put it back in that pun-filled car scene back where Vol 2 picks up at. Thurman's passionate portryal of Q.T.'s avenged bride outshines a seemingly jaded career of colorless romantic flicks (Beautiful Girls) and even worse sci-fi blunders (Gattaca, the Avengers). Her versatile performance, with substantial assistance from Kill Bill's storyteller, morphs the Bride from killer to victim, mother to lover, in no particular order, an overall triumph for Thurman and the beloved Bride.

The natural genius of Quentin Tarantino is what makes Kill Bill so pleasing; the juxtaposition of East- and Western cultures is a thrill to watch, complete with silhouette-shot fight scenes, shameless bundles of violence, and a stunning soundtrack to background the entire madness.

Q.T. serves up some abnormal conservation throughout Vol 2., with scenes voicing Bill's Superman analogy, Budd's contemplation of mace vs. flashlight, and Elle's Internet findings on the deadliness of the Black Mamba snake.

This profound weirdness, or cleverness, of Tarantino, along with numerous revisits to great classic cinema, makes Kill Bill, all Hanzo swords down, a flawless victory.
Crystal at 11/10/2004 11:18:00 AM

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