If one subscribes to the "there is nothing new under the sun" theory of creativity, then taking the best parts of what has come before, reconstructing them and stamping the end result with your own personality is as good as it gets. And, in that regard, Quentin Tarantino has no equal. Tarantino's body of work has changed the face of modern cinema; he's a master at taking what's cool from his vast film-geek mind and re-contextualising it, and Kill Bill (1 and 2) may be his most audacious attempt at this and also his greatest success.
Vol. 2 picks up right where Vol. 1 left off, with the Bride (Uma Thurman) continuing her quest to kill her ex-boss/lover Bill and her former partners in the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad in true payback-style for massacring her wedding party, robbing her of her child and leaving her for dead in Texas. But while Vol. 1 was all kill-crazy martial arts rampage, Vol. 2 is a slow burn western, more preoccupied with establishing character, motivation and depth than equalling the impressive body count of the first. In fact, 2 isn't just a continuation of 1, it is a totally different movie, in terms of tone, feel, pacing and genre. And while fans might be expecting more of 1's carnage, Tarantino's audacious flip of the script is masterful.
Also masterful is David Carradine, who as Bill gives the performance of his career (about time, too), injecting an inhuman psychopath with humanity, making the audience sympathetic to his character (he does everything out of love for the Bride), if not his actions. Uma again is awesome and delivers a wide range of emotions in 2 (while still righteously kicking ass), proving that no other actress could have played this role.
But it's not all dialogue and character development — the fight between the Bride and Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in a claustrophobic trailer is brutal and features one of the most disgusting scenes in recent memory. And the Bride's cruel tutelage under Pai Mei (another nod to the Shaw Brothers) is simply fantastic. Also great is Michael Madsen's turn as Budd, Bill's washed up brother living in Texas as a bouncer.
Those inclined to nitpick could — the ending is telegraphed far in advance, Tarantino occasionally indulges himself and his actors at the audience's expense, there's a lot of talking and little action, the ending is anticlimactic compared to the first, the narrative is more linear than 1, there's less genre fuckery. But looking at the total package of 1 and 2, which complement each other's strengths while negating their weaknesses, it's impossible not to acknowledge the masterpiece Tarantino has created. (Alliance Atlantis)