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Tuesday, April 20, 2004

 

A honkin' huge, open letter to Quentin Tarantino




[HEY YOU! The following post blows the ending of Kill Bill Volume 2 and examines, in detail, several key moments from the film. If you haven't seen it, YOU NO READ!]

Dear Mr. Tarantino,

I've seen a lot of bad movies in my time but they don't bug me nearly as much as those that are capable of being great but completely drop the ball. So you decide to follow up a balls-out, brilliant action film with a tedious chick flick? I just have one word for you:

Wha...?

The problems with Kill Bill Volume 2 are numerous. Let's get started.


1. What happened to the Pussy Wagon?

Now I know what happened because I read the original script a year ago. But 99.9% of the audience doesn't. You've already been slapped with a good deal of criticism for cutting "Yuki's Revenge," the scene where the wagon is destroyed by a grenade. Couldn't you have given a more befitting death? Maybe Bud could have filled it full of lead or given it to the grave digger. Why toss away something as iconic as the Millennium Falcon with a cheap "Oh, I lost it" line. Weak!


2. For a movie with so much talking, there's absolutely no character development. And Budd sucks.

I'm sorry but someone had to say it. Yes, Budd is a tragic figure. He was once one of the world's best assassins and now he's living in purgatory, wasting away his days scrubbing stripper poop off of bathroom walls. You know why I don't care? Because the character is given absolutely no back-story. The fact that Michael Madsen plays Budd as more a blubbering, dufus hick than a bitter warrior makes his scenes all the more unbearable. You also killed him off in the most cheap way possible. BOR-ING!

You allowed Oh-Ren a lush anime sequence but neglected the rest of your characters. Even the Bride is given less exposition. Volume 2 desperately needed a flashback sequence to the days when these characters were all working together to give us some sort of context for their relationships. What turned Budd, a globe-trotting death-dealer into a feeble drunk? What's the story behind Elle Driver's rivalry with the Bride? Who is Bill, who does he work for and what's his story? You never bother to answer any of these quintessential questions despite a total four-hour running time. There's simply no excusing this.


3. What was up the pimp scene?

This five minutes of wasted celluloid. What was the point here? To make the audience squirm over the sight of a nasty harelip? I don't care how great that obscure actor is, this thing wasn't even worthy of being added as a deleted scene on a DVD.


4. Beatrix Kiddo?

So you bleeped out the Bride's real name...for no apparent reason. There's no secret twist. She isn't Bill's daughter. She isn't related to the Vega Brother. There's no absolutely no point. She simply has a weird name. Er....ok. Good work!


5. No one goes to see a movie with a poster of a super-pissed woman wielding a samurai sword to listen to her talk for two hours.

Given the fact that you're working within the context of cheesy trash cinema, your dialog is as stiff as anything found in a million kung-fu flicks. In the first film, it was easy to overlook the lame dialog because...it's supposed to be a cheesy kung-fu flick and had oodles of kick-ass action to dish out. The second installment contains, at most, 10 minutes of violence, forcing the audience to zero in on all the verbal cardboard. In part 2, you seek to plop a heart in this Frankstein monster of yours and, sorry, it just doesn't tick.

"I'm a bad person."

"No, you're not. You're a good person."

I don't care what you're referencing, these lines are the sort of tepid crap a preadolescent author of Men in Black fan fiction would turn their nose up at. The biggest problem here is with the Bride's final confrontation with Bill. They're similarly endless conversation is tedious and tired. The over-hyped Superman speech feels like something Kevin Smith would cough up while struggling with writer's block. Again, weak.


6. The film's biggest sin? A appallingly anti-climatic finale.

So the Bride fights her way through an army of samurais, crawls out of a grave and stomps on eyeballs to...sit down and chat with a sad old man? Yes, I get it. This whole thing is SUPPOSED to be over-the-top and ridiculous. Bill is a love struck megalomaniac who flipped out when he saw his 28-year old mistress about to marry a record store clerk. There's also all the obvious devil imagery in that living room in the end; a roaring fire and Satan's face slapped on the side of Bill's sword. Why not expound further on that? The scene is rife with potential and you all but blew it.

What's Bill's motivation here? He wants to pull off the ultimate Hannibal Lector move and get the Bride to forgive him for killing her fiancee and putting her in a coma. He allows her a quiet moment with her daughter before they sit down to negotiate. So far, so good. Then he flips out, fires a gun at her head and pumps her full of truth serum. Huh?

No dice. He should have been a total softie right up to the end. There's only one way this movie could have ended. Having the Bride suddenly jump up and break out a contrived "death grip" in the middle of their conversation is NOT the way to go about killing off Bill. At the very least, you should have let her kill him with the Hatori Hanzo sword that was made specifically for this purpose.

Furthermore, you pull a total bait and switch here. At one point, Bill offers to dull with her on a beach as the sun rises. HOW COOL WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN? A lot cooler than watching Bill walk three feet and fall over. Time to play armchair screenwriter here. What shoulda' happened is this:

The two engage in their battle of wits and will. When Bill realizes he's getting nowhere, he breaks out the sword and an epic samurai fight ensues. It's the deadliest man in the world versus his protege, the world's deadliest woman. He's got years of experience and a million tricks but he holds back because he thinks he's got a shot at winning her back. The fight leads from a veranda down to the beach. The Bride manages to wound him and Bill has to make a quick decision: just kill her or risk his own death. A blood red sun rises and manages to get the sword away from her. She's down in the sand, defeated. Again, he offers to let her live if she'll only forgive him. She agrees. As the two embrace, she coolly breaks out the death grip and sends him to hell.

Fine, maybe this is also lame but, in the words of Bart Simpson, "You know what would have better than nothing? ANYTHING!"


7. The final scenes. Two words: "Jersey Girl."

It wasn't as schmaltzy as Ben Affleck dancing with his daughter in a spotlight but, man-oh-man, that was pure s-a-p.


8. The film does have its saving graces.

- The beautiful, devastating scene in the chapel and the ensuing conversation between Bill and the Bride. "I'm going to listen to music all day." "I'm the man" Good stuff.

- Pai Mei bouncing around on swords. "He hates Americans. He hates Caucasians. And he especially hates women."

- The burial scene. Those sound-effects of the dirt, the flashlight...all nail-biting. I liked the Bride's interior monologue on the logistics of clawing out of a grave in the original though.

- The ensuing scene where she stumbles into a cafe, looking like the living dead and asks for a glass of water.

- "Why *did* Pai Mei pluck out your eye?" SQUISH! Great stuff.

If the Volume 1 was nothing but sound and fury signifying nothing, well, at least it was incredibly entertaining. Volume 2 is nothing but tedium and limp-wristed exposition...also signifying nothing. If the first was a rip-roaring roller-coaster, the second is a church-sponsored Halloween house; full of good intentions but super-boring nevertheless. And, one more metaphor: if part 1 was a Red Bull/Pixie Stick rush, part 2 is the ensuing headachy, stomach-pang hangover.

This really is a case of "blank check syndrome" at work here. Established directors, after making a studio a ton of cash, are occassionally allowed to blow a wad on a dream project. 95% of the time these movies sucky suck suck. Toys, Signs, Hook, Gangs of New York all spring to mind. As much as I hate to say it, Quentin, Kill Bill Volume 2 belongs on the same stack.

I hope someone out there pulls a "Phantom Edit" on this saga and merges the great scenes from Volume 2 into Volume 1. There really is no saving the climax but a Kill Ren could be salvaged from all this.

Sincerely,

Blog

PS: At least David Walker agrees with me.


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