Revenge. What does it mean? Well, to Quentin Tarantino it means "Great fucking action movie with lots of blood, incredible fights and wicked dialogue." To writer/director Jonathan Hensleigh the term "revenge" means "Really shitty action movie that butchers a genius comic book anti-hero, bogusly bad fight scenes and the worst dialogue this side of Attack of the Clones. Only even badder." Thus I bring you my reviews of both Tarantino's Kill Bill volume 2, and Hensleigh's The Punisher (who's tagline was "The punishment begins April 16th"... which was actually very prophetic in hindsight).
Let me start out with Kill Bill volume 2 if you please. Let me just say that it had everything spastastically sweet that Kill Bill volume 1 already had going for it (i.e. violence, great lines, good acting, and references to specific movie genres out the yin yang), and it even went farther in the "kick ass" factor.
Let me back up a bit. Kill Bill Volume 1 ended with both O-Ren Ishii and Vernita Green (two of the Bride's old buddy assassins) getting their spunky hot butts handed to them at the end of sharp pointy things. The Bride was on her way to take down Budd, Bill's brother, and then Elle Driver (the one-eyed psycho bizatch who left the Bride alive in the hospital at Bill's request at the beginning of volume 1). Then there would only be Bill left.
Volume 2 starts off with what really happened in the little wedding chapel in no-where Texas that caused this whole revenge thing in the first place. And man let me tell you, the Bride's wedding (well, it was a rehearsal) is about 3 Xs worse than my older sister's nuptials... But that's mostly because at least 3 more people die in it. Boy did Kill Bill bring out the horror flashbacks in me. Anyway, this wedding rehearsal is where we see Bill on camera for the first time and get a good feel for just how fucked up the man truly is. Then the massacre begins in earnest. Everybody in the chapel (including, unfortunately, Samuel "the man" Jackson) is left for dead and the Bride's story begins. Then we are introduced to Budd. Budd gave up on the assassination gig a looong time ago, like Vernita and O-Ren, but instead of becoming domesticated or a crime lord, Budd chose to try to atone for his past sins. He now lives in self exile from the civilized world in a shitty trailer in the middle of the shitty hot desert, and he works at one of the shittiest titty bars I've ever seen (it puts the one in From Dusk Till Dawn to shame in pure shittiness and puke stains). He's unclogging shit-filled toilets and getting yelled at by the coke-fiend owner for being late to work all within his first 2 minutes on the clock. He spends his off time ignoring his ultra-assassin brother Bill, and drinking. Lots of drinking for Budd. But the Buddster hasn't lost his edge yet, and he's not ready to roll over and play dead just because the Bride is looking for revenge that she most definitely deserves. And it is this confrontation that brings us to perhaps the greatest part of this or any movie ever: The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei.
See, back in the 70s and early 80s there were a bunch of Kung Fu movies that had in their cast a vicious character who was the cruelest bastard of a martial artist that the world had ever known. With his trademarked looong white beard and eyebrows he was the great Pai Mei. Pai Mei was a complete dick, but he knew his stuff. He was as ancient as all time, but also as stubborn and pricky as your neighbor's 16 year-old son who cranks his car stereo to 235 decibels as he drives around the neighborhood at 11 o'clock at night blasting "Gonna Kill Whitey" rap crap like he was out on a drive-by. He's that much of an asshole. But you'd never tell him that to his face. Pai Mei is the master of Bill, the Bride and Elle Driver in Kill Bill's universe, and it is his training session of the Bride (that we see in the shape of a generous flashback) that got the most laughs in the entire movie (and there were lots of good laughs to be had). The hell that he puts her through is just so fucked the hell up, but I was loving every minute of it.
Oh man, but then we jump face first into the confrontation with Elle (who if I remember correctly was the Bride's actual sister in the original script... just not the finished movie). This is the balls out coolest chick fight I've ever seen. It totally puts Vernita Green's fight with the Bride in the first volume to shame. The total bitch-viciousness of it made me and the Wolfman shout out "Oh FUCK!" on several occasions. It's just down and dirty, baby. Ow man, and the end to that brawl just.... Oh FUCK! Pain. Mucho pain.
Then there's Bill. The whole set up to the Bill fight was great. Ingenious even. Just how the Bride finds him and then everybody's reactions and explanations just made me wish Tarantino wrote more than only one film every 8 years. But, the actual battle between the Kiddo and the Billo was over in like nine seconds. Nine fucking seconds! Was David Carradine just too old to do any more moves than that? Seriously, WTF?! Buuuut, that's my only gripe of the whooooooole thing. Some may think it's a big gripe, but in all honesty it's rather small. The rest of the movie (and volume 1) completely make up for it and then some. And not that it's a bad final battle, just short.
There are a few observations I'd like to make about Kill Bill volume 2, if you don't mind (and if you do, just what the fuck are you doing here in the first place... You know I like to ramble). Whilest volume 1 was all about the Japanese Samurai (both in setting and feel), volume 2 is all about the Western. Mostly the spaghetti western, but there are moments of good old American showdowns strewn throughout. And the whole segment dedicated to Pai Mei and Chinese martial arts, training films pretty much covered all the bases that Tarantino must have been trying to honor through the course of his imbrued opus. He even fit in one more gorgeous "Shaw Zoom" on the Bride's eyes before all was said and done. When I have the chance to have somebody write and direct the story of my life and all the ninja assassination attempts, the wronged love affairs, and all the robot killings, I want it to be Quentin Tarantino. The man sure know how to make a fanboy movie for the masses.
The Punisher review.
So, Kill Bill volume 2 was totally worth the 6 month wait that we all had to endure since volume 1 was first released to a theater near you. Unfortunately The Punisher wasn't even worth the wait between the time I gave the cashier my money and she gave me back my ticket. It was the pure definition of "suxor". "Is it really all that bad," you ask, "or are you just comparing it to KB and think it sucks when measured in the same light?" No, it's not all that bad. Bad isn't a bad enough word. It is so godawfully terrible that it will make your eyes bubble with puss-filled blisters of suckiness while your ears try to pop their own eardrums so that they won't have to listen to crap like "Vaya con dios", "Oh, I think God's gonna sit this one out." Could have been a cool line I guess, but the guy who plays Frank Castle (aka the wannabee Punisher) makes it sound like C3-PO trying to act tough even though he's really just a gold, gay droid.
Take all the crappy dialogue and all the annoyingly retarded, apartment crack-tennents (I swear, there are like 30 lame as hell neighbors that Frank has when he's living in the ghetto, and each is a worse racial, or just plain annoying, stereotype than the previous one) out and the Punisher still blows John Travolta's lame Scientology-shrunken balls. Not that the comic book Punisher was the greatest (evil) hero ever, but at least he was one tough s.o.b. The REAL Frank Castle had tragic beginnings. His kid and wife were gunned down in the crossfire of a gang shooting. The LAME-COCK movie Punisher had HIS ENTIRE EXTENDED FAMILY purposefully blown the fuck up because of some wallowing mob bitch who was whining over her dead son. Quite literally overkill. The REAL Punisher was in-fucking-sane. He crossed the line that Batman walks nightly a looooong time ago. The comic Punisher kills "bad people" whom the big time superheroes (i.e. Spider-man, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men) ignore in order to go after the well known mutants and super powered uber-villains. He's pissed at everybody for letting the world go to shit like it has. He thinks he is the voice and the hammer of justice. The FAKE LAMER movie Punisher just wants revenge. Now, that could make a good movie in and of itself, but it's not what the Punisher is or does. The REAL Punisher in psycho. The world is black and white to him. You are either purely innocent or totally, evilly wrong, and therefore in need of punishment.
Also, one of the things that kind of pissed me off is that the FAKE ASSCOCK movie Punisher is a complete pussy most of the time. Not only does he get his glutteous maximus handed to him for a good portion of the film, but his nemesis in the movie (John Travolta as Saint) is even more pathetic than he is. You just have a feeling that if the two of them had all of their weapons taken away and were locked in a small room together they'd just start sissy-slapping eachother till one started crying for his mommy. This CRAPPY SAPPY Punisher movie makes the really shitty Dolph Lundgren 1989 straight-to-video version look like the fucking Godfather Part II. Hell, it even makes Roger Corman's Fantastic Four look like it was crafted by Spielberg and Shakespeare's story-telling, genius love child. Man, at least Dolph was pretty cool in the role. Sure he may have spent 90% of the movie driving his chopper around in the sewers, but he fucking took out the Japanese yakuza! From what I remember (and my memory of it is made even better in comparison to the 2004 Punisher shitfest) he killed ALL of the fucking yakuza. ALL of them. And the '89 version had Louis Gossett Jr. in it long before he went all sniper on everybody. Louis is B-A-D ass.
So, unless you want to wait until it comes out on DVD and make a drinking game out of its sucktitude with your friends (who knows, you might actually enjoy its ending that way), skip the punishment. Stick instead to the tale of revenge that actually makes you smile and cheer: Kill Bill.
Okay, Kill BIll 2 was pretty good and all that, but that whole Chinese teacher thing was just too much for me to handle. See, I think that it all goes back to my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Wendiglo. She was a real cunt and a half. Pai Mei just reminded me waaaay too much of her (right down to that beard). Gawd, I wanted her dead. Problem was, whenever anybody tried to assassinate her she'd always catch us red handed and make us sit in the corner through recess. I missed 37 recesses that entire fucking year.
Both me and Mark Keys teamed up to try and shoot her in the ear with paperclips fired by rubberbands on more than one occasion. Then there was that time that we threw 14 cats on her as she walked in the door hoping that one would scratch her eyes out or cause an allergic reaction that would make her suffocate to death. I think she ate them all. Then that one assassination attempt that almost got me in a shitload of knee-deep fecal matter was my last pathetic attempt ever. I tied one end of a string to the door handle to the classroom and the other end to a makeshift shelf above the door. Then I put a 25lb. bowling ball on the shelf and waited for Ms. "Bend-it-low" to enter and get clocked back to the stone age. Unfortunately I set the thing up at 3 o'clock in the morning and the first person to enter the room was old Mr. Furley, the janitor. That sonovabitch was the nicest person who ever treated me kind in school. He was always there to give me advice, and help me through the rough times like when I used the school's tractor lawnmower to give the school mascot a haircut, and when I thought I got Jenna Kittoss pregnant by kissing her belly button. Those were the good old days. Kinda brought a tear to my eye as I scraped up his brains off the floor and threw his lifeless and broken corpse into the furnace in the basement. I will always remember your sage advice, Mr. Furley... Especially "Pull out before you blow your load." That was the wisest shit anybody ever told this here Wolfman.
Kill Bill Part 2 was sweeeeeet. Super sweet in fact. Unfortunately its sweetness made the apparent shitness of the Punisher that much more "diarrhea up your nostrils" noticeable. It drove me totally fucking CRAZY! It was so bad that it made me want to watch Travolta and Slater's Broken Arrow in order to rinse my mind clean of the whole eye-rape-like experience... My brain is still burrrrrrrrrning!