Based on the notorious 1998 anime of the same name, this live action version of Kite may (thankfully) jettison all the graphic and questionable sex scenes of the original (hence it’s notoriety) but keeps the central premise of a young girl playing assassin, looking for the killers of her parents and dispatching goons with exploding bullets. Said assassin is Sawa (Eisley) a slight little thing navigating her way through a Post Financial Collapse world and blasting (or cutting up!) any scumbag with a connection to the king of the scumbags, The Emir. He’s the big daddy behind the Flesh Cartels (who steal and ship youngsters for reprehensible reasons) and believed to be the killer of Sawa’s parents. Along for the ride is somewhat ethically ambiguous cop Karl (Jackson) who keeps an eye on Sawa, stocks her up with the drug she’s addicted to and feeds her information on who to kill. Oh and since this is a Hollywood remake, there is also a cute boy thrown in with a trendy hat to help Sawa out on occasion. All out ultra violent action ensues.
Well sort of. Not exactly the gun blazing live action bad taste opus one may have been hoping for (what with original director David Ellis, of Snakes on a Plane fame, passing away just as production began), this live action version of Kite does try and is often stylish but by the last act just fizzles out with its own overblown premise. As mentioned the graphic censor-baiting sex of the anime has been mercifully left out here though the film is still grubby in tone, somewhat questionable morally but is really just a load of trashy exploitation nonsense. On those trashy terms, Kite is often entertaining with the broken down, hollowed out future world nicely realised and ample amounts of action and violence erupting frequently: usually just before the film begins to take itself too seriously. The action is suitably bloody (what with knives and exploding bullets being the weapons of choice) though it could have been a bit more exciting, meaning the film never finds the action pulse it really needs. However, there is a very cool shootout in a nightclub bathroom.
India Eisley (Underworld: Awakening) is suitably waiflike and damaged as the gun-toting Sawa and Jackson pops up every now and again to elevate any scene he is in. Unfortunately, while the film achieves a grubby visual aesthetic and delivers the requisite action, proceedings kind of whither out come the last half hour with the action drying up and a late act plot twist sign posted a mile off. Probably not as risqué or as edgy as fans of extreme films were hoping for (and will no doubt disappoint the fans of the hardcore anime) and too trashy and grimy for lovers of serious cinema, Kite is nevertheless sporadically entertaining, not as bad as you may have heard elsewhere on the internet and falls somewhere in-between average girl-with-gun action film and edgy exploitation oddity.
Review by Andrew Skeates
Kite is out now on DVD and Blu-Ray from Anchor Bay Entertainment and comes with the obligatory trailer.