Oriental style and environs are abruptly traded in for the craggy rocks and rough denizens of West Texas and northern Mexico's underbelly as Kill Bill rampages from Vol. 1 to Vol. 2. What's not replaced are the samurai swords or the lust for blood.
Assassin extraordinaire The Bride (aka Black Mamba) is halfway through her list of revenge killings as this second installment begins. "I roared. I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction," she intones. After being ambushed and left for dead by her former lover and boss, Bill, and his henchmen (and women), Black Mamba succumbs to a four-year coma. Waking, she swears retribution, and begins systematically exterminating everyone involved.
Back in the U.S., after a lethal excursion to Japan, Black Mamba remains single minded in her quest. "I've got one more. The last one," she informs the camera. "The one I'm driving to right now. The only one left. And when I arrive at my destination I am going to kill Bill." Before she reaches him, though, she's still got to get through his brother, Budd, and her arch-rival, Elle.
Reviewing Vol. 1, I wrote, "There is only one life that Black Mamba values—that of her unborn child." Now it becomes clear just how much that's true. In a flashback, we're shown that when she first learns she is pregnant, she begins distancing herself from her murderous career. She walks away from the hit she's currently assigned, finds herself a regular Joe to settle down with, and gets set to marry him. She explains to Bill that she desperately didn't want her daughter to be exposed to the life she had been leading, wanting her to start with a clean slate. "I could no longer do any of those things," she says. "Not anymore. Because I was going to be a mother." (It wouldn't be fair to say all of that, though, without also noting that Black Mamba's passionate love for her daughter is used as leverage to excuse her recent acts of revenge.)
Scenes take place in an American strip club and a Mexican brothel. Both feature women wearing revealing costumes. The camera watches as Black Mamba pushes at her (clothed) breasts. The most socially negative, obscene terms possible are applied to women in general and the sexual anatomy of both genders.
As referenced in Vol. 1's review, director Quentin Tarantino insists, "Somebody else's violence is my action. There's no disgrace in trying to kill people in the coolest way possible—especially if you're doing a martial arts movie. ... I wanted to think up every way I could have [Black Mamba] disband and put an end [to her enemies]." The results aren't as non-stop here as they were in Vol. 1, but in some ways they're less cartoonish and more sadistic. A gruesome, climactic battle with Elle (which includes vicious hand-to-hand combat, an attempted drowning and swordplay) has Black Mamba plucking Elle's remaining eye from her head, dropping the orb to the floor and squashing it between her bare toes. A flashback shows a man ripping Elle's other eye out.
Earlier, before Elle revels in watching Budd convulse and die once he's bitten by a deadly black mamba snake, Budd shoots Black Mamba (the woman) in the chest with a shotgun loaded with rock salt. Then he nails her into a coffin and buries her alive. He's shown enjoying his task of binding her hands and feet, manhandling her, and dragging her mercilessly through dirt and rocks.
Other base scenes include shootings, stabbings and assorted atrocities. Flashbacks and closing credits show violent images from the first film, including close-up footage of Black Mamba being shot at the wedding chapel.
Crude or Profane Language
More than 20 f-words and close to 10 s-words. Crude and obscene terms are used to reference sexual organs. God's name is attached to "d--n" a half-dozen times. Japanese are sneeringly referred to as "Japs."
Drug and Alcohol Content
A strip club owner and one of his "girls" snort cocaine. Beer and hard liquor make several appearances. Reassuring Bill that she's put an end to Black Mamba, Elle tells him to "go smoke some pot." Bill shoots a narcotic-infused dart into Black Mamba's leg, telling her it's a truth serum. Budd injects a sedative into her backside. Cigarettes frequently dangle from the mouths of Budd and Elle. The organ player at Black Mamba's wedding rehearsal puffs away throughout the scene.
Other Negative Elements
Black Mamba spits bloody saliva into Budd's face. He retaliates with what looks like a tobacco-laced glob. Four-year-old B.B. is accustomed to watching shoot-'em-up movies before bed.
Kill Bill: Vol. 2 plays the gritty Western showdown to Vol. 1's Hong Kong kung-fu. Sparer in tone and much more dialogue-heavy than its predecessor, it's no less eager to glory in gore. Tarantino does everything but physically thrust moviegoers inside Black Mamba's coffin when she's buried alive. He gleefully—and graphically—shows us a woman's eyes being plucked from her head. Then he smugly ties up all the carnage with a neat little (emotional) bow that assures viewers it's perfectly OK for them to have just indulged themselves with a double shot of vengeful murder and mayhem because "the lioness is reunited with her kitten and all is again right with the world."
"When I tell people the name of the movie is Kill Bill, and that I'm Bill," star David Carradine says, "they ask me, 'Well, what are you, the bad guy?' And I have to tell 'em, 'There are no good guys in a Quentin Tarantino movie. It's all about the bad guys.' The essence of a Tarantino movie is an inside look at the minds and hearts of violent people. That's what we go to see his movies for. It's climbing inside these people's psyches and showing what makes them tick."
That should make your family's decision about whether or not to see Kill Bill: Vol. 2 an easy one.