Kill Bill Volume 2 (18)<br/>Taking Lives (15)<br/>Win a Date With Tad Hamilton (PG)<br/>Wondrous Oblivion (PG)<br/>The Other Side of the Bed (15)<br/>Monsieur N (12A)<br/>Chinatown (15)

Betrayal, pain, mutilation. It's Quentin the Merciless
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The Independent Culture

And so the roaring rampage of revenge continues. In Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 2 (18), Uma Thurman picks up where she left off as The Bride, the samurai assassin who has some scores to settle with her former team-mates. Having wiped Lucy Liu and Vivica A Fox off her hit list in last year's Kill Bill Volume 1, she's ready to take on her boss's gone-to-seed brother Bud (Michael Madsen) and her own dark doppelgänger Elle (Daryl Hannah), before crossing swords with the title character (David Carradine).

And so the roaring rampage of revenge continues. In Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volume 2 (18), Uma Thurman picks up where she left off as The Bride, the samurai assassin who has some scores to settle with her former team-mates. Having wiped Lucy Liu and Vivica A Fox off her hit list in last year's Kill Bill Volume 1, she's ready to take on her boss's gone-to-seed brother Bud (Michael Madsen) and her own dark doppelgänger Elle (Daryl Hannah), before crossing swords with the title character (David Carradine).

This time, though, the rampage of revenge has more chattering than roaring.

While Volume 1 was light on Tarantino's trademark banter, Volume 2 is stuffed to the point of self-parody with quotable monologues: Hannah reads hers out of a notepad, and Carradine tells one of his camp-fire yarns while he is actually lounging by a camp fire. Indeed, Bill doesn't do much else except recite lovingly polished audition pieces, and as the last of these concerns his weakness for superhero comics - a weakness he shares with Christian Slater in True Romance and Tim Roth in Reservoir Dogs - you start to wish he'd let his fists do the talking.

But if Tarantino is simply showing off his cleverness, well, he's got a lot of cleverness to show off. KBV2 is so heavily loaded with visual, narrative, and soundtrack ideas that all you can do is shake your head and marvel at his flair. The film's music is his best ever - an astounding collection of stirring spaghetti western themes and rocket-powered blaxploitation funk - and the performances are tremendous: Thurman deserves an Oscar or two as she runs the gamut from poised icon to furious avenger to tearful mother.

And yet, for all of KBV2's moment-by-moment splendour, I wanted it to be over much sooner than Tarantino did. The story is a repetitive, incessantly unpleasant one that doesn't go beyond a merciless killer tracking down some other merciless killers and then killing them mercilessly. It asks us to stomach two hours plus of betrayal, pain, mutilation, slaughter, and impolite manners - as if the cruelty and coolness of Reservoir Dogs' ear-slicing scene had been spread over an entire film. It's exhausting. Mel Gibson might have been just as sadistic in The Passion of the Christ - and with only a fraction of Tarantino's abilities - but he was trying to convert people to his favoured religion. Tarantino is just trying to convert us to his favoured B-movies. I hope he puts his gargantuan talents to better use soon.

Thurman's ex, Ethan Hawke, turns up in Taking Lives (15), a serial killer thriller that wants to be Seven and Silence of the Lambs, but isn't either of them. Angelina Jolie stars as an FBI agent who is, of course, an intuitive maverick genius, although she's not such a genius that she can spot how little sense the film makes.

In Win a Date With Tad Hamilton (PG), Kate Bosworth plays a wide-eyed midwestern gal who has to choose between her lifelong friend and the Hollywood bad boy who's come to cow country for a taste of the simple life.

It's an amiable wish-fulfilment comedy for teenaged girls, but you know which guy she's going to pick - and you'll want her to pick the other one.

Wondrous Oblivion (PG) is a well-intentioned Brit film, set in 1960, about a Jewish boy who learns cricket from the Jamaican family that's moved in next door, despite the tutting neighbours. Unless you're a Wisden subscriber it'll seem very tame. The Other Side of the Bed (15) is a stock European sex comedy in which alarmingly attractive young Spaniards cheat on one another. It's not much improved by the insertion of pop songs and dance routines.

Monsieur N (12A), directed by Eurotrash's Antoine De Caunes, is a handsome yet dragging period drama that imagines Napoleon's escape from St Helena.

Finally, the re-released Chinatown (15) contains some of the greatest work of Roman Polanski, Jack Nicholson and, especially, screenwriter Robert Towne.

n.barber@independent.co.uk

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