Welcome to the Pile of Shame. Throughout my years of ceaseless debauchery and frankly worrying video game addiction, I missed out on movies that many consider classics. If you’ve ever asked someone if they watched a certain movie and gasped when they said they never did, you know what type of guy I am. I figured that it’s pretty silly that someone like me who lacks the appropriate historical movie education is allowed to write on such an esteemed movie website as ours, and have since created a pile of classic movies that I will work through in order to achieve true enlightenment. This series will be my chronicle through it and you’re more than welcome to tag along. Also, expect some spoilers in there, if you haven’t watched these films already.
After coming from the adrenaline-fueled blood high that was Kill Bill Vol. 1, I waited in eager anticipation to watch the conclusion of this whole saga. Like I mentioned in Vol.1’s discussion, which you can read here, there was a whole host of cliffhangers, unresolved mysteries and pending revelations that needed to happen in the second instalment that I was looking forward to. What I didn’t expect was that Vol. 2 was a complete paradigm shift in the narrative style, action scenes and presentation to a point where it was almost jarring, but it had that Tarantino spice of excellent elucidation that I felt was missing from the first volume.
In Vol. 2, the mystery of The Bride gets entirely resolved and we now have a name for her, her exact motivations, her relationship with the titular Bill and an actual reason for her wreckful rampage. This was also done methodically, giving the character real depth outside of her badass, sword-swinging persona that she donned in the first movie. It baffled me how this woman was such an insane warrior and we knew nothing about where she came from, but now we know it was the work of a grumpy legendary master with the best eyebrows in the game, Pai Mei. Her exposure to Bill was also somewhat endearing and even with the obfuscated facts about the man being a remorseless killer, he was still a charming personality that sort of had its hooks in you.
Because the movie took its time to colour in this menagerie of misfits and crazy people, it was rather slow on the uptake. The start of the movie moves at a steady pace without any blood geysers or crazy fight scenes and contrasting with the first volume, had almost no massive fight scenes to really talk about. The few that were there were resolved relatively quickly even if the two combatants are star-struck killers with years of intense training. The fight between The Bride and Elle was almost underwhelming, as underwhelming as someone’s eye getting plucked out mid fight can be, and I did expect a little more bombast coming from the runaway train that was the first one.
But in many ways, I preferred it like that. It gave these films a sort of ying/yang quality where the one is an intense visceral journey of human conviction and violence and the other is a sullen exploration of emotion and motivation. Both extremes that Tarantino, in particular, thrives in. It’s basically his calling card. Was it jarring to be presented in separate two hour-long instalments that you can easily perceive as being cut right in the middle? For damn sure, but this lends to the viscosity of Kill Bill that I ultimately ended up enjoying the most. It’s not just one thing, it’s an amalgamation of many.
I briefly mentioned Pai Mei earlier, but I just want to explore him in particular for a moment. His appearance was almost baffling because it’s out of such a left field. The training montages and general “ultimate warrior” moulding are very reminiscent of old Kung-Fu movies, but the movie isn’t afraid to have fun with it. Pai Mei is so grossly unlikable that it becomes comedic and the insane skills he possessed are also quite comical for a dude who has a woosh sound effect for his beard. But this ties into the craziness of the first movie where it walked on an extremely thin rope with the tropes that it chose to embrace. It’s a transformation of the tropes that we’ve experienced so much in older and even current action films and this transformation gives it such an endearing quality.
The whole saga wrapped up in quite a conclusive fashion with the only unanswered question being the actual activities of all the agents of Bill that they eluded to many times were so terrible that all of them deserved to die. But you can probably guess what they got up to when you see that they were sent on assassination missions. Also, the most striking thing about these movies that I’ve observed is that even with all of this craziness, it’s a very human tale. A tale of a mother that was torn from her child, self-discovery, atoning for your sins. Very wholesome stuff within a movie where the main villain’s heart explodes through the use of some strategic jabs. These people each had their own unique and almost tragic pasts that haunted them. The Japanese girl that saw her parents get killed, the hillbilly type with the crappy job and no direction in his life, the woman at the very start who tried to make a family after all of her foul deeds. All except Elle, she was just nuts.
Redemption is the word. Even the deplorable Bill’s intentions were based on heartbreak and being hurt. Did he take it a step too far? Well, that’s for damn sure, but the underlying feelings behind it were extremely relatable. This is what I loved the most about Kill Bill. Within its absolute batshit craziness, is something real. Behind the mass slaying and rivers of blood, it’s a tale that you can somewhat relate to. It’s a polymath of a saga and one that I will fondly remember now. Truly another Tarantino banger.