Uma Thurman and David Carradine co-star in a bloody and violent revenge story that writer/director Quentin Tarantino split in two. The first part came out in 2003 and now the saga concludes in Kill Bill Volume 2
Volume one introduced Uma Thurman as "the bride," an assassin who tried to leave the murderous trade; but as she prepared to marry and start a new life, her former colleagues of the "Deadly Viper Assassination Squad" attacked, killing everyone and leaving the bride for dead. She survived and swore to kill them in revenge, especially the leader - and her former lover - the enigmatic Bill.
Kill Bill Volume 2 focuses more on the relationship between Bill and the Bride; although it does not stint on the killings and visceral fight scenes, giving Uma Thurman the chance to do the sort of action usually reserved for men on screen.
"I'm not going to buy into the position that because it's a woman it has to be worse. It's a very male character," Thurman says. "You wouldn't blink twice at the scope of the journey the character goes through if it was 'Mad Max' or Clint Eastwood in this position. It's a revenge story. So it's about someone being victimized [yes, she was a former professional assassin], who then claws her way back from the dead and seeks to avenge herself. It's a very familiar story."
Thurman admits to being squeamish about acting out violent scenes.
"As a mother, I hate violence; but I also hate what I consider this weird American phenomenon of having such tolerance for real life violence and making such a big fuss over creative expressions of violence," she says. "It's astounding to me: the amount of seriousness put toward entertainment when, really, we have millions of handguns on the street, but they want to talk about violence in movies from a government level. I don't want to get into that too much, but basically what I'm saying is I think there's a lot more important things to deal with if people are concerned about actualized violence than an art form."
Kill Bill Volume 2 puts a top star of the 1970s back in the spotlight. David Carradine's TV series Kung Fu introduced the culture of Asian martial arts to many Americans, like writer/director Tarantino; and he co-stars as the title character and intended victim of the bride's revenge. Carradine says he is pleased that the fighting he gets to do in this film is grounded in reality and not fantasy martial arts like Charlie's Angels.
"That movie is just for fun and The Matrix is an environment where we know nothing is real and anybody can do anything. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a mythology," he says. "It fits there, but it doesn't fit in a movie like this that's about people right now on the street. I know Quentin's world is not the world we live in. You don't carry a samurai sword on an airplane; but still it is about real people ... kind of."
Writer/director Tarantino says he heard critics complain that Kill Bill Volume 1 was short on character development and dialog, so he gives the characters in Volume 2 plenty to say; but he also felt it was important to give his cast the freedom to improvise around his script.
"I really believe [in it]," he says. "It's not exactly improvisation, it's inspiration. Part of a director's job is to see that moment, see that cool thing on the set or in the location that cool thing in an actor or an extra or a dog or whatever happens to be there and be inspired to create something living.
That's why you're going through the shooting process," he adds. "I don't believe in that 'Hitchcock thing' of kind of doing it all before and just do what it is you planned out. I want to be inspired. I want to capture some sort of life."
Kill Bill Volume 2 also features Daryl Hannah, Michael Madsen and Chinese kung fu star Gordon Liu.