Killing Bill softly
Going in, it was hard to know what to expect from Kill Bill Vol. 2. With Quentin Tarantino at the helm after his enigmatic extended absence from the director’s chair, he could have very well turned the first film — a wet smooch on the bottom for all things cinematically classic about those legendary Kung-Fu-sploitation flicks — into a 111 minute black-belted trailer for Vol. 2. It easily could’ve been equipped with smooth-talking, transvestite gangsters that drink blood on their way to the big heist; starring Michael Madsen of course. You just can never tell with QT.
KB’s second installment is essentially the second part of an otherwise whole production. Therefore, it seemed like a safe bet to think Vol. 2 would pick up right where 1 left off, both stylistically and plot-wise. Well, for the benefit of fans of Kill Bill 1 and, subsequently, film buffs everywhere, Mr. Tarantino throws viewers the old proverbial curveball with Vol. 2.
Tarantino plays his intrinsic retro creativity beautifully, turning Vol. 2 into a visual concert of introductory teasing asides from the days of Humphrey Bogart and Errol Flynn, creative shooting even Orson Welles would admire, throwing in his own brand of spicy dialogue and colorful scene-play. It is a magnum opus of video store aesthetic so raw and so original that Tarantino’s work actually reaches a higher plateau than the influences upon which he modeled this film. It is perfection … with one common blemish almost too minute to mention here. Almost.
After Bill sprayed its last pint of blood across the screen and RZA’s hypnotic score dragged the credits upward, a few things became crystal clear.
1)Combined, KB 1 and 2 is the one of the best earth-bound epics ever, and certainly the best since Tarantino came on the scene.
2) Kill Bill will do for Kung-Fu cool what Lord of The Rings did for dorkhood: make it oh-so-chic.
3) There’s definitely one thing harder than making a cinematic masterpiece: ending a cinematic masterpiece.
Although this might be the first time anyone’s brought this third point to attention (or at least for a while now), it must be said. Now, don’t get me wrong, Kill Bill and the aforementioned LOTR pictures are rightfully two of the best epics in film history. However, both suffer from blandly dull endings just as bad as those of the Bad Boys and Tomb Raider franchises. You don’t even know how sorry I am for mentioning those films in the same sentence, but it had to be done. It’s called the exaggeration train, people — hop on board.
Not to ruin anything, but, while The Bride does not lavish the infamous Bill with lovelorn poems and fine chocolates when she finds him, she does in fact opt instead to attempt to kill Bill as the subversive titular phrase would suggest.
Pretty obvious finale, wouldn’t you think? Discovery, then fighting and then someone dies. Simple. Instead, Tarantino shies away from the dynamic, yet concise aspects of narration and filmmaking that got him into Bill’s lair, stretching viewers through an overly explanatory, oddly mushy and, consequently, anticlimactic finale.
So, to all you directors — even you, Tarantino and Jackson — puzzling over those last shots, trying like hell to create a conclusion worthy of your masterpiece, there’s only one way out. Just stop it right there. Better to leave us in awe with abrupt conclusion confusion than to drag us through the torture of a spoon-fed, obligatory ending.
And although most of you directors will not heed this crucial device for maintaining creativity in a classic, me and other believers in the unexpected end can always count on victory in the end. That’s right, thank God for the alternate ending DVD package.