Even a casual observer recognizes that Tarantino is a master of recycling retro pop culture. From his soundtracks full of cool gems you never thought much about the first time around, to fun inside references and outright swipes from cult films, he knows how to please his fans. The second volume of Kill Bill is no exception, chock full of cool cars, classic Kung Fu, and perhaps one of the greatest innovations of the 70s...the kickass female action hero. Uma Thurman is an unlikely and seemingly gawky successor to the all too small group of badass babes started by Pam Grier, but she just works right. And in this tale of revenge that rivals the most outrageous exploitation films of decades past, she does not disappoint.

To ask whether this is better than the first one is irrelevant. You really need to view this as the 2nd reel of a single movie with a 7 month long intermission, as it keeps moving right where the last left off. The stylish fight scenes in the brightly lit neon landscape of Japan, are traded for swordplay inside dusty trailers with shit covered toilets. The story remains simple, and the action is violent and usually hilarious.

The main difference, if one must make one, in Volume 2 is that the fight scenes seem somewhat more believable, but no less entertaining. Gone are the Old Faithful sized geysers of blood that would erupt from a mere blade nick that the first part relished in. Some of the battles remain relatively blood free, as a matter of fact. But there's plenty of gory surprises that kept the audience at the advance screening I went to laughing and shouting, "OH SHIT!" throughout.

The standout sequence in the film involves Uma being trained by Pai Mei, a Kung Fu master who's played brilliantly by Gordon Liu. Imagine how pleasing it would be if in The Karate Kid, Mr. Miyagi would have just smacked the shit out of Ralph Macchio when he wasn't learning instead of just saying, "wax on, wax off." Liu gets more comedy mileage with just a flick of his insanely long white beard, than an army of Jim Carrey's talking assholes could ever dream of.

And the extended presence of David Carradine is a great treat, as well. From his first appearance, playing a wood flute, as a nod to his Caine character in Kung-Fu, he provides a stately, enigmatic, and sometimes humorous performance. And as a nod to fans of Tarantino's geeky pop culture rants, he gets to deliver a wonderful monologue on how Superman chooses to be a weak fearful Clark Kent as an alter-ego because that's what he really thinks mankind is like.

Some of the other touches I'd like to rave about will only serve as spoilers to the story, but even though the film's own title makes it clear what's going to happen, there's twists right up to the end that still provide great surprises.

Fans of Sid Haig will be pleased to see him in a brief cameo as the bartender of a local Titty Bar, while Samuel L. Jackson has a nice guest appearance, as well.

I had my doubts after seeing the corny teaser trailer for this, but the entire audience seemed to love the hell out of it.  It's a helluva good time that you won't regret.  And if you loved the first one, then there's no reason to miss it.

5 out of 5 stars.


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