LOS ANGELES – There’s nothing quite like a murderous, vengeful bride with a thirst for blood and a list of victims in mind.
And that’s exactly what moviegoers will be treated to in the second installment of Quentin Tarantino’s (search) “Kill Bill” series, which opens this weekend.
In “Kill Bill: Vol. 2,” (search) Uma Thurman’s character "The Bride" is again on her quest to, well, kill Bill — her ex-lover and her ex-boss — along with her former associates from the “Deadly Viper Assassination Squad,” who tried to off her on her wedding day.
“The films just reflect my personality … things that turn me on or turn me off or whatever I find funny,” said Tarantino, who has made a name for himself directing highly stylized -- and very violent -- films such as “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs”.
Many of the original characters from the highly violent “Kill Bill: Vol. 1” (search) didn’t survive long enough to be in “Vol. 2,” an R-rated Miramax production. (“Vol. 1,” by the way, has just been released on DVD.)
But unlike “Vol. 1” — which came out in the fall and was rife with gore — the second in the series is a little tamer in the blood-and-guts department. Tarantino spends more time developing the characters and fleshing out their history — and there’s more dialogue than sword-play.
But that doesn’t take away from the nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat tension Tarantino is known for.
And make no mistake: The Bride still kicks some serious butt. Thurman, whose character is a former assassin, said the tricky fight sequences were a workout, but that filming them is much more tedious than watching them edited together.
“Fight scenes aren’t really exciting,” she said. “You’re there 14 hours a day hitting someone in the head with a lamp.”
One of the biggest fight scenes is between Thurman and Daryl Hannah, who reprises her role as a one-eyed killer named Elle Driver. Her last stand – a massive brawl with The Bride in which they trash a trailer and maul each other — raised questions on how the actors should execute it.
“All it said in the script was, ‘And they have the greatest catfight of all time,’” Hannah said. “I did not know what to expect, quite frankly. I really didn’t, until we got into it … It seemed just so overwhelming at first, having not really known any martial arts, but ultimately I really enjoyed the process."
And as one of the bad villains in the film, Hannah was subjected to some of the most creative — and humiliating — bits of fight choreography.
"Every morning there would be something added on to the list of, you know, insults that I was to take,” she said. “You know, 'We're going to throw spit on you today and now we're going to flush your head down a toilet and now we're going to smash a lamp in your head. I was just like 'All right.'"
“Vol. 2” clocks in at over two hours, and wraps up all the loose ends of The Bride’s past entanglements. But did Tarantino really need two films to complete the saga? He told Fox News it was the only practical decision.
"I don't think I would've really had the option of releasing a four-hour movie. Nor do I really think I really would want to either ... I want people to be able to go see it," he said. "I'm a movie junkie -- I would love it all right, but I think most moviegoers would OD."
In a review of the movie, Associated Press entertainment writer Christy Lemire called “Vol. 2” “every bit as thrilling as the first," but added that "it also features more of the stylized, rhythmic dialogue that has become the writer-director’s trademark through films like ‘Pulp Fiction.’”
Lemire said that because the script is more Tarantino-esque, the latest installment has a little more substance than its predecessor.
“This gives the second film an emotional resonance that the first lacked, and it brings the enormity of the whole project into perspective,” she wrote.
Lemire characterized Thurman’s Bride as more developed in “Vol. 2,” and the scenes between her and Bill “surprisingly moving."
She added: "They also buzz with tension because we know from the title alone what she plans to do to him. ... While she's an intimidating spectacle to behold, she also gets to show a softer side. And that's a deadly combination."
Fox News' Catherine Donaldson-Evans, Mike Waco and Anita Vogel contributed to this report.