The visual element is amped up here during the second installment of the Kill Bill films – and its not just about finally getting to see the man named in the title of the film either. There’s a wider color palette utilized here as the action moves from underground, literally, in Texas to somewhere atop a mountain in China. Simply by dearth of location, this second film looks different. But the Bride is transformed as well – no longer is she a Bruce Lee reference, but a stylish, if not casual, woman on a mission.
To figure either Bill film as beautifully shot would be a tremendous misstep, though. There are countless missed chances and faux pas turned in here. Choosing to stage a good deal of the action indoors – whether the first sword fight or even the Bride being trapped in a coffin – visually, these occurrences seem to be more important to push the story forward and don’t receive too much consideration from the film’s director.
Tarantino, though, does reveal a fascination with overhead crane shots. Just outside of Bill’s brother’s trailer, a crooked frame is exposed as the camera inches closer and closer to the front door. Again a bit latter, there’s a bathroom scene in which the camera is hung from above to reveal nothing other than a predilection for such visual approaches. Surely, the approach is liberally cribbed from any number of Tarantino’s favorite films from the past.
More engaging, though, are the new references that crop up. Samuel L. Jackson makes an appearance during the wedding preparation as Rufus, a piano player. For the astute music fan, Rufus Thomas should instantly jump to mind – and just moments later, the Jackson character invokes the singer’s name during a list of funky soul group’s he’s played with over time. It’s in these moments that Tarantino most eloquently expresses his love for seventies’ culture.
Of course including icons like David Carradine as Bill, Sonny Chiba as a sword crafter, Gordon Lui in two roles and Larry Bishop as a bar owner doesn’t hurt either.
And while all of this might just seem like wrote regurgitation of style, the final forty minutes of the film are mostly surprises. The Bride finds that the child she was pregnant with at the time of her beating is alive – and living with Bill. Even more interesting is how the final fight scene is played out and the Bride’s subsequent departure, the company she’s in and how breezy it’s all pulled off.
These films were not Tarantino’s strongest moments, but each lends viewers a few glimpses into the director’s various interests, filmic and otherwise.