is supposed to be a near future dystopia, but the post-crash world where roving
“numbers gangs” abduct young children for a Middle Eastern human trafficker is
not as outlandish as it ought to be. However, a strung-out teenage girl wages
war against the cartel with the help of a morally problematic flat foot. It
should all sound familiar to anime fans, for good reason. Yasuomi Umetsu’s
anime gets the live action remake treatment in Ralph Ziman’s Kite (trailer here), which opens this
Friday in select cities.
looks like the return of the Dinkins Administration, but on a national scale.
Anarchy reigns, as numbers gangs rove the streets and the cops are either too
scared or too corrupt to interfere. Karl Aker is the exception. The
hard-charging detective has been secretly working to bring down the shadowy
white slaver known as the Emir with his secret weapon: Sawa.
her father, Aker’s partner, was murdered by the Emir’s henchmen, Sawa allowed
the cop to pump her full of more juice than major league baseball consumed in
1998. Aker’s narcotic makes her lethal and fast-healing, but it is also
addictive and makes her forget. Still, in Sawa’s world there is not much worth remembering.
At least, that is how she hazily sees it. Oburi begs to differ. Claiming to be a
childhood friend, the would-be Samaritan purports to know important secrets
from her past.
the Kite concept simply works better
in anime than as an exploitative remake. Frankly, India Eisley is not bad as
the haunted Sawa, but she looks lighter than a box of Kleenex and more fragile
than a crystal rose, making her butt-kicking scenes rather difficult to buy
into, especially considering she does not have any super-powers beyond an anesthetizing
course, Samuel L. Jackson should be money in the bank for a film like this, but
he is oddly restrained as Aker, only nibbling on the scenery rather gorging as
we would hope and expect. Still, when he does his stone cold thing, it is still
cool. Unfortunately, the rest of the ensemble is rather nondescript, including
Callan McAuliffe, who certainly does not look like an Oburi.
Ziman’s take on Kite is not nearly as lurid or nihilistic as critics made the
source anime out to be. In fact, there is a moral center to the film. Instead,
its overriding sin is its general tepidness. Only for franchise fanatics, the
under-performing Kite opens this
Friday (10/10) in New York.
Labels: Dystopian Cinema, Kite franchise, Remakes, Samuel L. Jackson