Kill Bill Vol. 2 is not really a sequel in the truest sense of the term but is the second part of one long movie. That movie, naturally, being Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino's action filled homage to his favorite film genre, Hong Kong kung fu movies.
The Bride Returns
Uma Thurman is still The Bride, hell bent on seeking revenge against the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad; of which she is a former member. Kill Bill Vol. 2 recounts the story of how she was beaten, shot in the beautiful blonde head, and left for dead on the floor of the El Paso, Texas wedding chapel where she was to wed her beau, Tommy Plimpton, who believed that the sizable bun in her oven was his and certainly not the offspring of Bill (David Carradine), The Bride's former mentor and lover.
After skillfully and brutally dispatching both Vernita Green (Vivica A. Fox) and O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu) in Kill Bill, The Bride has three names remaining on her death list; those of Bill's estranged brother Budd (Michael Madsen), the one-eyed Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah), and - of course - Bill.
Hey, Budd - Let's Party
The Bride goes after Budd first, planning to surprise him in his small Texas trailer and kill him quickly and quietly. Budd has let himself go considerably since leaving the Deadly Vipers, and the man who was once one of the deadliest assassins in the world now works as a bouncer in a sleazy strip club, removing rowdy patrons and mopping up toilet water. Perhaps underestimating him, The Bride is ambushed by her quarry and once again faces certain death as Budd buries her alive in a local cemetery.
Enter Pai Mei
Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a story of revenge, but it is really a movie about Martial Arts and Artists. Tarantino segues from shots of The Bride struggling for air in a coffin buried six feet beneath the ground into a flashback scene of Bill taking her to see Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), a great (if somewhat sadistic) martial arts master. There she undergoes years of grueling training and menial service under the command of the seemingly inhuman teacher. Among the various tests Pai Mei tasks her with is a ritual in which she strikes a solid block of wood again and again with her hand - presumably until she can break the block in two. The training, we learn, paid off, as she uses what Pai Mei taught her to break free of the coffin and once again go after Budd.
Meanwhile, Budd has contacted Elle with the intent of selling The Bride's Hanzo sword, a skillfully made Japanese katana, for the sum of one million dollars. Elle double crosses Budd, telling Bill that his brother was killed by The Bride. She is preparing to leave the trailer when The Bride appears, and one of the greatest fight scenes ever filmed ensues. Exactly how the conflict between the two female warriors ends should not be spoiled, but suffice to say, The Bride is able to cross two names off of her list and continue on her journey to confront and kill Bill. We also learn that The Bride has the rather unfortunate name of Beatrix Kiddo - which may be why she went by simply "The Bride" thus far.
Kill Bill Vol. 2
Eventually The Bride and Bill do meet face to face, and we are reminded of why David Carradine is just so gosh darn cool, even all these years after starring in television's Kung Fu. We won't spoil the ending here for anyone who hasn't seen the film and doesn't know whether Beatrix manages to kill Bill, but we will say that the confrontation does not turn out at all like one would expect. Instead of a battle akin to Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, we are given one more along the lines of Darth Vader and Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope - rather anti-climactic. Yet, somehow, it works.