The decision to split director Steven Soderbergh's four-plus hour epic about the life of Che Guevara into two parts was probably a wise one. Although the central figure's life begs for an epic, it'd be a tough thing to take it in all at once. Splitting it in two gives us a chance to take in one part and mull it over and digest it before we are subjected to the second concluding one. It's peculiar that the second part of what was originally one film can feel so different and is ultimately a lot better.
Set in 1966, Che: Part Two continues the story of Argentinian revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who, after having toppled the regime of dictator Fulgencio Batista, decides to leave his wife and children to start another revolution in Bolivia (which we are first told of through an interview on TV where Fidel Castro is reading out a letter from Che). After assembling a small army of men, he makes his way into the heart of the Bolivian jungle to the point where he feels it right to begin his campaign. However the Bolivian government, unaware that Che is the leader of the rebels, start to move in on them while Che and his men are running out of supplies.
It's so strange that even though Che: Part Two is not a sequel (but rather a continuation of a story) it feels like one, very much like an entirely different movie as opposed to the second part of one long film. It not only looks different (sleeker, more focused, less gritty) but it feels different, too. The first film is plagued by fast editing, far too flippant cuts to dozens of different times and places, and a convoluted nature that renders it less than enjoyable, to say the least. However Soderbergh has somehow made the second part to this overall fascinating life story a lot more comprehensible, understandable, and thus more emotionally affecting.
What differentiates part two from the first one is how it lets the material breathe, giving it space to flesh out into a well-functioning, surprisingly enjoyable film that has far more depth and rounding of its characters (particularly Che) than the first one had. This time around most of the film takes place in just a few locations, mostly the jungle as we follow Che and his group of faithful soldiers making their way through the harsh terrain, trying to survive any dangers that they may come across, not least of which is lack of food and water. There is far less fancy editing and the number of events that we have to keep up with has thankfully decreased.