Kill Bill: Volume 2 (2004)

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Released 13-Sep-2004

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Main Menu Audio & Animation
Featurette-Making Of-(26:03)
Featurette-Chingon Performance From Kill Bill Vol. 2 Premiere (11:04)
Deleted Scenes-Damoe (3:35)
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2004
Running Time 131:19
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (77:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Quentin Tarantino
Studio
Distributor

Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Uma Thurman
David Carradine
Michael Madsen
Daryl Hannah
Chia Hui Liu
Michael Parks
Perla Haney-Jardine
Christopher Allen Nelson
Bo Svenson
Jeannie Epper
Claire Smithies
Clark Middleton
Larry Bishop
Case ?
RPI $36.95 Music RZA
Robert Rodriguez


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement Yes
Action In or After Credits Yes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I'll presume that if you're reading this, then you've experienced Kill Bill Volume 1 and are familiar with the events leading up to Kill Bill Volume 2. If by some bizarre chance you aren't familiar with this story, you may want to skip the below synopsis as I plan to make a few references to the first film that could easily be interpreted as "spoilers".

    The Bride's list now has two names scratched off it, with her former colleagues O-Ren and Vernita meeting violent ends at the hands of our vengeful bride in Volume 1. The next two names on her 'to kill' list are Bill's brother Bud (Michael Madsen) and blonde beauty Elle (Darryl Hannah), both of whom have fallen into obscurity since the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad was disbanded. It seems Bud has made a career change and is now living out of a decrepit trailer in Texas, working part time as a bouncer in a seedy titty bar. Bill makes contact with his brother in an attempt to warn him of The Bride's imminent arrival, but is met with apathy on Bud's part - it seems that while appearing nonchalant on the outside he is in fact intently confident that he can give The Bride a run for her money.

    It's during The Bride's confrontation with Bud that the plot side-steps (flashback style) into her prior training under her master Pai Mei, a cruel tutelage that sees her slowly gain the approval of her lonely, elderly master. The conclusion of Kill Bill is satisfying and a great many loose ends are tied up neatly. We discover how Elle Driver came to lose her eye, The Bride's name is finally revealed and the major give-away at the end of Volume 1 is realised in an emotional and heart-wrenching scene.

    Volumes 1 and 2 of Kill Bill are vastly different pieces of cinema, each with specific strengths over the other. Most notably, the intense gore and action of Volume 1 is seriously juxtaposed in Volume 2 by long scenes of witty dialogue and plot development. I wasn't surprised at all to find that some non-Tarantino fans who loved the action of Volume 1 found Volume 2 disappointing. It's a matter of personal preference, and for me Volume 2 is by far the superior of the two. It contains much more of Tarantino's signature dialogue exchanges, interesting characters and dramatic tension - which is essentially what I loved about Tarantino's work in the first place. Such arguments will eventually become obsolete, as the film will undoubtedly be spliced together in the future to create a complete, single film. That, my friends, will be worth seeing.

    As I said in my review of Kill Bill Volume 1, "In essence, Kill Bill is Tarantino's tribute to the classic yakuza and samurai films of the 70s, with fragments from all kinds of cinema, including anime, spaghetti westerns and European suspense. The broad range of influences and styles that Tarantino has brought to this film results in a richly crafted and highly rewarding cinematic experience like no other". The same applies for Volume 2, and then some.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer is as impressive as the presentation that was bestowed on Volume 1. The transfer itself has been slightly overmatted to 2.40:1, framing it relatively closely to its intended theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Black bars appear on the left and right of the frame for almost fifty seconds, beginning at 29:47 and reducing the frame to 1.33:1. This is an artistic decision on the part of the director, applied to lend a claustrophobic feel for a short period.

    As with Volume 1, this is a sharp and very well defined transfer. The level of clarity and detail is high, with very little grain or imperfection to speak of. The chapter focussing on The Bride's tutelage under Pai Mei has a much grittier, 70s feel and contains a noticeable wash of grain over the image. This effect is consistent with the film's theatrical exhibition and given the action contained in the scene it is likely to represent yet another artistic decision. Shadow detail appeared realistic throughout and black levels remained similarly true. There was no low level noise evident in the transfer.

    Aside from several short black and white scenes, colouring throughout the film is bold and rich, with no signs of bleeding or oversaturation to be seen. Skin tones remain realistic and consistent.

    The video transfer has been encoded at a variable bitrate with an average of 5.8Mb/s, almost 1Mb/s lower than Volume 1. Despite the lower bitrate, MPEG compression artefacts are thankfully nowhere to be seen. I noted a couple of very minor examples of aliasing but these were so slight they barely warrant mentioning. I didn't note any positive or negative film artefacts during the film. As with the transfer of Volume 1, it would be very hard to fault this transfer as far as artefacting is concerned.

    Three English subtitle streams are included. The first is a standard English effort, followed by an English for the Hearing Impaired stream - both of which translate the dialogue of the film well. An English Titling stream is the third and is activated by default. The default stream translates some passages of Cantonese found during Pai Mei's scene.

    This disc is dual layered, with the layer change placed during a scene transition at 77:52. The pause is barely noticeable as it occurs in a black, silent moment.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks accompanying this film on DVD. The default soundtrack is a Dolby Digital 5.1 stream encoded at 448Kb/s and a dts alternative is included which is encoded at a noticeably broader 768Kb/s. I listened to both the dts and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in their entirety. An English Descriptive Audio track is also available on the disc, presented as Dolby Digital 2.0 and encoded at 192Kb/s.

    The English dialogue is clear and succinct at all times, while the film's ADR is seamless and natural. Audio sync is absolutely spot-on and doesn't present any issues at all.

    The use of the surround channels is subtle and enveloping for the most part, contrary to the action packed sound stage of Volume 1. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of examples of dedicated surround usage, just not to the extent of the first volume. The rear channels are used most often to carry the score, and really kick into action as the soil falls from all angles at 35:20. Voices are generally confined to the front centre channel and rarely stray.

    Obviously the dts track was my favourite of the two soundtracks here, offering a decidedly clearer and more realistic rendition of the mix. The Dolby Digital option appears to be mastered at the same level, however it just doesn't manage to attain the same degree of depth as the dts track, particularly during gunfire and the like.

    This is my first experience with a Descriptive Audio soundtrack, and I was rather impressed. The narrator is a plain speaking English chap, with a non-offensive British accent. The narration keeps up with the pace of the film well and doesn't refer to The Bride by her real name until it is mentioned on screen. During Pai Mei's main scene, the narrator speaks over the top of the Cantonese dialogue and announces to the viewer when subtitles appear on screen. I noted a couple of very minor pronunciation errors as some of the names are read during the closing credits (RZA for example), but overall the vision impaired will greatly appreciate the inclusion of this soundtrack.

    Along with several very well chosen pieces of retro music, the soundtrack score of Volume 2 includes some original contributions from Robert Rodriguez, marking the first time an original score has been included in a Tarantino film. The score is highly suited to the pace of the film and features some beautifully melodic passages of guitar work.

    The subwoofer manages to make itself felt on many occasions, most notably at 34:40 as several nails are heavily hammered. The score also utilises the LFE channel effectively - check out the deep bass rumblings at 13:40. Beautiful!

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    This is a pretty mediocre effort, given the status of the film. It would appear that the real extras have been withheld for a super-duper edition in the future. It's better than nothing, I suppose.

Menu

    The menu page is animated with a few key scenes from the film, and accompanied by a clip from the score. All of the menu pages are 16x9 enhanced and feature some action-heavy page transitions.

Featurette-Making of (26:03)

    In this Making Of, Tarantino discusses his thoughts behind Kill Bill's simple revenge story premise, augmented by many lengthy excerpts from the film. Short interview excerpts are contributed by Uma, David Carradine, Tarantino, Michael Madsen and Darryl Hannah. Some time is also spent discussing Robert Rodriguez's contribution to the score, and the fact that he did it for free! This featurette is presented in an aspect of 1.33:1, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio.

Featurette-Chingon Performance From The Kill Bill Vol. 2 Premiere (11:04)

    We are treated to a performance from Robert Rodriguez and his band Chingon, performing songs from the films From Dusk Till Dawn and Kill Bill for the crowd at the Kill Bill Vol. 2 premiere. This footage is of decent quality, presented in 1.78:1 but sadly not 16x9 enhanced.

Deleted Scene-Damoe (3:35)

    In this short deleted scene, Bill (David Carradine) takes on a couple of stooges who are cranky at him for snuffing their former master. Very good action to be found here, and I wouldn't be surprised to see this scene reinserted when the two films are cut together. The scene is presented with the same video quality as the feature, but accompanied only by an overly loud Dolby Digital stereo soundtrack.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The online shopping fiasco that was Volume 1 left countless consumers out of pocket thanks to online stores giving vague or false info regarding their Region's specifications. Many also failed to honour their own return policies, which signalled a wake-up call to many of us who do their DVD shopping online. Kill Bill: Volume 2 is virtually identical in length and content across all regions and shouldn't present any problems should you decide to import the title from your preferred region.

    The Region 1 disc has an additional French Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, but seems to lack our English Descriptive Audio option.

    The very pricey Region 2 NTSC Japanese box set includes the following additional features:

    Most people I have spoken to are waiting for the inevitable box set to arrive with a truckload of extras and both films in the one package. If you must make the purchase now, it wouldn't hurt to buy local with this one.

Summary

    Kill Bill Volume 2 is a fantastic conclusion to the bride's saga, and a film that will please Tarantino fans who were left perplexed by the action found in Volume 1. I for one am looking forward to seeing the definitive version of the film, in one piece as it was originally intended.

    The video transfer is excellent.

    The audio transfer is excellent.

    The extras are good, but there must be more.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rob Giles (readen de bio, bork, bork, bork.)
Monday, October 11, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-525, using Component output
DisplayPanasonic TX76PW10A 76cm Widescreen 100Hz. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2802 Dolby EX/DTS ES Discrete
SpeakersOrpheus Aurora lll Mains (bi-wired), Rears, Centre Rear. Orpheus Centaurus .5 Front Centre. Mirage 10 inch sub.

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Comments (Add)
HK R3 info - Anonymous
Great to see description track - Geoff
japanese dvd has longer cut, plus more extras - millhouse
Why is there no slip case for vol. 2??? - Anonymous