Saturday, 13 September 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 2004: Michael Madsen in Kill Bill Vol. 2

Michael Madsen did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Budd in Kill Bill Vol. 2.

Kill Bill Vol. 2 is a strong follow up to the first film as it nicely completes the story of the Bride's revenge well managing to never seem repetitious of the original.

Michael Madsen is not the greatest of actors since he's given some truly terrible performances in his career. The thing is though he happens to be one actor who cannot phone in a performance, if he tries to phone it in he might as well be in comatose by how lifeless he becomes. Thankfully though when he's in a Quentin Tarantino film he seems to decide to actually try. This is certainly the case here as he portrays the Budd the third person on the Bride's (Uma Thurman) kill list due to the fact that he was part of the assassin squad who massacred her wedding rehearsal. Budd in addition to that is also the brother of the leader of the assassin squad Bill (David Carradine). Where two of the assassins carried on their evil ways, another changed but seemed more upset at being called on her crime rather than committing it, Budd is far from his days of being an assassin, now living in a trailer in the desert, and in addition reacts quite differently than the rest in regards to the Bride's quest.

This can all be seen in Madsen's only scene in which he shares with Carradine as Bill tries to warn Budd about the Bride. Madsen is terrific in the way he interacts with Carradine in the scene. There is a certain ease that Madsen brings and alludes well to the fact that they are brothers. There's an underlying warmth between the two as they speak about the Bride's previous exploits. Madsen though is effective in bringing along with this a certain passive aggressive element as he speaks to Bill, and comes off as very realistically how one brother shows his discontent with another. He is equally effective in alluding to whatever tension that was caused by something in the past, quite possibly something to do with the chapel massacre. It is not overly open about but Madsen just suggests the right disregard for his brother's advice. Both actors do very well in quickly establishing the relationship between the two brothers, despite only having this one scene together.

Madsen's best moment of his opening scene though is where Bill insists that the bride will kill him if he does not accept his help, and Madsen's delivery of Budd's reaction is flawless. Madsen particularly carries himself with a Sergio Leone style in some ways particularly when Budd remarks that they do indeed deserve to die. Madsen is exceptional as he shows Budd's living through his own regrets involving the incident in his short speech and we see that Budd has an honest remorse for his actions. What is most remarkable is in an instance where Madsen cuts down the dramatics though and finishes his statement with a silly rhyme saying "But then again so does she so I guess we'll just see won't we". Madsen does not play as though Budd did not mean his first statement, rather that Budd's simply ready to see how the chips are going to fall, and he simply does not have the right to really complain either way. It's a brilliantly handled moment by Madsen and wonderfully shows Budd's particular state of mind.

After that we briefly follow Budd through his sad state of existence in lowly job where he is treated none too well. There is technically a slight comic edge about these scenes as a former assassin has to just has to be chewed out by his crude boss. Madsen makes the beaten down state of Budd so simple, but so honest though that it's hard not to feel sorry for the guy. Despite Budd's predicament he is the only one of the assassins to actually manage to defeat the Bride in the battle as he manages to surprise her. Madsen is terrific in the scene as he shows Budd almost slightly surprised himself at the turn of events. Madsen does not portray Budd as being overly sadistic or anything like that but rather is quite great at showing Budd to be mainly happy at getting the upper hand. Madsen boisterous in the right way in the scene. His attitude is not that of a pompous jerk but rather guy who's has so few things going his way that he's just has to enjoy this moment for all its worth.

Madsen is veryy good here by making Budd far more than simply a name to be checked off the list, even though technically speaking he's one of villains. He even technically does a particularly villainous thing when he buries the bride, but even in that instance Madsen plays it as though Budd is taking no pleasure in it. In fact there again is a regret in Madsen's expression that suggests that Budd doesn't exactly want to it but rather feels that he must. Madsen always brings a great complexity to Budd in each of his scenes, and never makes him a simple evil thug. Madsen makes Budd stand out by bringing such heart to his performance so that when he exits the film I felt sadness opposed to anything else. Actually if he had been felled by the Bride instead of who he meets his end with I might have lost my investment with the Bride. This is because Madsen manages to create such an affecting portrait of a former assassin with a conscience.

18 comments:

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

He is wonderful here. Do you prefer Part II over Part I, Louis?

Also, what do you think makes some actors like Madsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Tim Roth, Pam Grier etc., up their game when they're in his films? Is it more about the dialogue or direction?

RatedRStar said...

I am not really a fan of Kill Bill, to me it is like a fanboy geeks project at film school, and the music has been seen in nearly every advert involving martial arts lol so it can now be called cliche. Carradine overcomes that though, but thats it.

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar said...

@RatedRStar: I'm surprised you don't like it. Thought you love of HK cinema would somehow overlap, although I guess based on your previous comments the whole kung-fu and martial arts thing isn't exactly your cup of tea. I assume that you do enjoy the presence of Sonny Chiba and Gordon Liu, no? And Lucy Liu, maybe not so much eh? lol

RatedRStar said...

@GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

I dont hate it or anything, its similar to my feelings with Star Wars, I wouldnt say its part of the HK cinema that I like, Kill Bill is more of the 60s/70s style rather than the HK cinema that is famous today (Crime thrillers and heroic bloodshed movies that usually had Chow Yun Fat). Sonny Chiba and Gordon Liu are fine to me, Carradine is the only thing that had smiling, and Tity Liu cant act lol.

I do like Quentins idea of the casting, which is basically lets get every failed has been actor/actress, and then add one legend (Carradine) and see how it goes.

RatedRStar said...

I should say the master himself Mark Kermode hated this film to death lol haha.

RatedRStar said...

I should say I like Vol 2 more than 1.

RatedRStar said...

On David Carradine the one teeny tiny complent I had, was with a line he said, when he said, " I like Comic Books" and im thinking please Quentin stop doing fanboyish stuff which adds nothing, because all of this sillyness is down to mr ego himself Quentin.

RatedRStar said...

That whole Superman convo just felt like Quentin himself telling us, " I am a fanboy"

RatedRStar said...

I hope I dont annoy people with that statement I would still give David a 5.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

I really liked Madsen, probably around the same rating for me as well. To be fair, he's only been bad when he's really just looking for a paycheck. I mean, can you blame him for not even bothering in Bloodrayne?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Also, he did some great voice work in The Walking Dead: Season 2 game recently.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity what are your thoughts/ratings on the other three VAS ladies of Kill Bill 1/2?

Anonymous said...

Louis what are your ratings and toughts on Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction?

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: You must be pleased with Chelseas great start to the premier league =).

@Michael Patison: You must be very disappointed by Real Madrids slow start to the league =(.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: Congrats to Costa for his history making performance, by becoming the second player to score in their first four consecutive games in The PL. Costa was MOTM, Favourite for the Golden Boot already with 7 so far, Fabregas was brilliant, as well as Hazard giving a really great display in the second half of the game. If we beat City, next then my confidence levels will go through the roof in our chances of winning the title. I'm also happy with the draw between Ar6nil & Man Shitty. Lastly, I'm praying for a QPR win over Mank Scum.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: I look forward to seeing my German machine crushing Manchester City in the champions league.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I use to be very pro-english when it comes to the germans, but that result I can abide by 100% although it saddens me to say that considering Lamps is on loan to them at the moment. When it comes to UCL nowadays, I only really support Chelsea or Liverpool when it comes to the English, Real for the Spanish, Juve for the Italians and not trying to offend here, Dortmund for the Germans, although if it came down to Bayern and Barca, I'd choose Bayern mainly because of my love for former Blue Arjen Robben and my absolute disdain for Luis Suarez.

Louis Morgan said...

GetDonaldSutherlandAnOscar:

They are on the same level for me.

I'd say Tarantino seems to definitely keep them on track or at least his writing does inspire them to actually try.

Robert:

Well won't blame him too much for that film in particular since it does not even have a sense of fun in its badness.

Anonymous:

Fox - 4(The best I've seen from her without question. She does really good job of being the badass assassin, but as well being wholly genuine in the scenes with her daughter. It's very solid work as I think she manages to make Green as memorable as the others despite only having a single scene to do it in)

Liu - 2.5(I'm simply no fan of Liu. She's good in that one scene where she kills the crime boss, but other than that I find her performance has a strange blandness to it. In fact other than that scene all he line readings sound a bit off)

Hannah - 4(Interesting to see the often bland love interest able to go do such a vicious character so well. Honestly I would say villains are her forte since those are the only times where I have liked performances from her. I'd give a higher score but the way she says "I killed your master" got a little too close to ham territory for my liking)

Thurman - 4(She's got some great chemistry with Travolta and really that's all she technically needs her. She's otherwise technically just the trophy wife character but she does a fine job in portraying the slowly growing affection between Mia and Vincent)