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Kite
Genre Thriller
 
Review:

Kite is based on a series of anime films of the same name by Yasuomi Umetsu. The story follows Sawa, a young orphan girl, who is taken in and turned into a cold-blooded killer by a detective assigned to the case of her parents brutal double murder. The film adaptation by writer-producer Brian Cox and directed by Jerusalema's Ralph Ziman turns the detective into an ex-partner of Sawa's cop father.

While based on a well-received anime crime drama thriller from 1998, the big hitter in Kite's live-action adaptation is Samuel L. Jackson as Karl Aker. Jackson's star presence is felt, but mostly because the rest of the film is so half-baked, you get the impression the real thriller at play is his escape from a "you're better than this" b-movie.

We expect great things from a gritty girl power revenge thriller in an era of films like Sucker Punch and The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo. Unfortunately, it doesn't come close to the audio-visual splendor of Sucker Punch or the gripping, gritty crime thriller and mystery that is The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Writer and producer Brian Cox has been involved with a series of niche low budget releases that don't amount to much, and unfortunately Kite is another casualty.

The film's casting of its lead is problematic. India Eisley is like a beautiful porcelain doll, but the film doesn't play to unreality and she's just too young and precious for us to take her seriously as a hardened Milla Jovovich style heroine.

Eisley's performance is constrained by our inability to go with it. There's very little to back up her plug-and-play assassin skill and she's cold and out-of-reach, making it difficult to appreciate her emotional journey. To make matters worse, the rest of the South African ensemble are under-utilised, subjected to insubstantial, stock quality or unlikable characters, making it difficult to get a firm grip onĀ Kite.

While top-notch South African talents Deon Lotz and Lionel Newton make do with what they have, it feels like we're skimming along the surface of a dark, unsettling '90s video game plot story that is downright nasty and ultra-violent. While it's set in a seedy post-apocalyptic future, the production design comes across as cheap, impressive for a student production, average for in-house video game movies and inferior by international standards.

The action scenes are frenetic, trying to engender a Bourne Ultimatum climate, but just delivering close-up action that makes it difficult to figure out what's actually happening. While trying to cash in on the spate of female-driven revenge action thrillers, Kite runs into cliches and stagnates, becoming increasingly dull and borderline exploitative.

Kite is the sort of movie you'd expect from Uwe Boll and should have gone straight-to-video or better yet, the bargain bin. We want to be loyal because of it's largely South African cast and crew, but this is a cold, underwhelming, dull and overcooked actioner with questionable intentions that does not deserve your money.

The bottom line: Wanting


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