Better than the first one, because it wasn't just non-stop fight scenes. Still, watching them both in one sitting like I did is an exercise in masochism for someone who doesn't like violence/action films. I probably never would have watched it if it hadn't been shown on Mubi. It would be refreshing to me to see this much money($60 Million budget?), time and top name actors, director, spent on an erotic/sex/porn film.
'...I roared. And I rampaged. And I got bloody satisfaction. I've killed a hell of a lot of people to get to this point, but I have only one more....I am gonna kill Bill...' Volume 2 continues to fire all cylinders as the revenge continues; this multi-genre homage references spaghetti westerns, kung fu classics, film noir and hell even 'The Searchers' in its epic tale of payback. Carradine adds his swan song.
I just watched both volumes again and I think I've changed my mind and decided that this is the better of the two. The darker, more realistic tone is a nice contrast to the cartoon-like first volume. This is also reflected in the cinematography which is more muted and washed out in comparison to volume one's bright colours. The saga as a whole is a hugely entertaining, if not quite great epic.
The black mamba, the scenes with Pai Mei, the flashback in b&w, Uma Thurman. Unfortunately, the last 30 minutes between Uma and Carradine are flawed because Tarantino took up his bad habits : long and empty dialogues without any empathy. It's crystal clear Tarantino never felt once in his life the feelings his characters are supposed to have.
Sure, it rambles and stutters since it's a Tarantino picture. And his dialogue is still showy often, but it isn't as irritating as his first two films since it tries for character more often (akin to what he did with Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction.) Volume: 2 also has some clever ideas, especially the effective flashback in a buried scene that expertly gives us a good reason for Thurman being able to escape her doom.
Probably the most emotional film in Tarantino's ouvre, besides maybe "Reservoir Dogs." The scene where she's weeping and thanking Carradine profusely before the wedding massacre is heartbreaking, almost.
My favorite of the two volumes. Carradine was absolutely magnetic. He embodied and paid off every bit of anticipation I had for the character. So cool. So deadly. Uma Thurman has never been more bad ass or stunningly beautiful.