Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
I had heard a few years ago about the plan to make Yasuomi Umetsu's 'Kite' into a live action film, and I must admit that this did not sound like a very good idea to me.  'Kite', to put it shortly, is the story of a school girl who spends her days murdering people and her nights getting gang raped.  That's something that probably shouldn't even be made into the anime it was made into, much less a live action movie, though I will admit I did enjoy Umetsu's 'Kite'.   Own it even.  Hentai scenes and all.  Animation does give one the ability to get away with certain things that you just can't do with live action.  Regardless, after years of planning and preproduction and the untimely death of the first director, we have 'Kite', the live action film.  Minus the gang rape, thank goodness.  And… well… it still probably wasn't the best idea. 

The young girl, seemingly completely out of it, is being dragged up the elevator by some no good individual who looks like he plans to do some awful things to her once he gets her up to his room.  He's not going to make it.  The girl Sawa (India Eisley) was just playing possum, pulls a pimped out gun out of her purse and pumps a time delayed exploding bullet in this guy's head.  Not sure what the exploding bullet is all about, but I guess it does keep a guy dead.  Good start, and it is lining up nicely with the anime.

Now things begin to get a little confusing and a lot wayward.  Sawa, as it turns out, works for Paris (?) police officer Karl Aker (Samuel L. Jackson) taking out the vermin in this post-apocalyptic looking city, trying to claw her way to a mysterious character known as The Amir.  It seems many years ago this Amir killed Sawa's parents, with her father being Karl's partner, and Karl has been raising Sawa ever since, while training her in the fine art of assassination, and also plying her with this drug she needs that allows her to forget the awful things she is doing.
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So Sawa is going about the business of killing pedophiles and drug dealers and gun runners, and getting a little sloppy about it much to Karl's dismay, but then she meets Oburi (Callan McAuliffe), a young man about Sawa's age who claims he knew her way back.  He also mentions that she would remember him too if she just get off that junk she's using to forget everything.  More importantly, she'd remember what actually happened that night her parents got slaughtered. 

A lot of other stuff happens, parkour enables street thugs, bathroom shootouts, lots of time delayed exploding bullets, until Sawa finally reaches her ultimate goal.  But naturally, everything isn't always what it seems and the real truth will hurt Sawa deeply.  But hey, at least the city has fewer pedophile pimps running around.  That can't be an altogether bad thing, now can it?

Unfortunately, after that promising opening scene, nothing seems to work all that well in director Ralph Ziman's live action version of 'Kite', and a lot of this, I believe, simply has to do with a source material that just doesn't translate all that well to live action.  India Eisley is a cute kid, but there's not a lot that she does in this movie as the character of Sawa that sells us on her being a kung fu kicking, master assassin, no matter how many people she shoots in the head.  Again, I think this is less the fault of the actress and more so the source material translating poorly.  The animation was pretty darned unbelievable as well, but it was animation and you can really get away with a lot more on a drawn canvas.

Aside from the fact that we weren't really buying into the character of Sawa, which is a fairly major issue, the rest of the movie featured a narrative which was at best a jumbled mess of ideas that separately, probably sounded really cool, but stitched together… well… it was a jumbled mess of ideas.  The film had very little rhythm to it, it was surprisingly slow moving despite all of the action sequences and strange looking people running and jumping over walls, and the look of the film was very drab and depressing.  Of course, this is a movie about a teenage girl shooting people in the head, so we know we weren't going to get a sunny film, but where our filmmakers may have planned for this color palette to be 'dark', what we saw was 'drab', 'colorless', and ultimately boring.

Samuel L. Jackson was in it though.  Was does that mean?  Well, not much really since breathing oxygen is slightly more difficult than getting Samuel L. Jackson to be in your movie, but we are fans of the man here at the FCU and he does seem to give it his best shot, in yet another lousy movie.

'Kite' was probably doomed to fail from the get go.  Removing the gang rape elements was a positive, but we were still left with a film that felt dead on arrival.
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