15:00 - 7th December 2014, by Calum Waddell


Based on Yasuomi Umetsu’s controversial cult anime, Kite was never going to be an easy tale to translate to the big screen. As with its source material, the film focuses on a young girl called Sawa (played by India Eisley) who, having overcome harrowing and strenuous circumstances, becomes a talented assassin. Under Umetsu, Sawa was a survivor of a child sex racket but, in this South African-shot, cyberpunk spin on the story, the character is presented as an orphan who seeks to find and destroy the force behind a national prostitution and slavery syndicate.

Assisting her is a disenfranchised policeman (Samuel L. Jackson in a typically gripping performance) who doesn’t mind breaking some laws if it results in villainy being wiped from the futuristically hideous-looking streets of Johannesburg. Shot on location in South Africa, Kite is visually interesting, with some bleak, but colourful, depictions of a low-rent, RoboCop style dystopia. Moreover, the blood and bullets fly thick and fast and the action is occasionally hard-hitting. Eisley, as Sawa, is also perfectly agreeable in her role – going from seductress to psychotic at the blink of the eye. However, nothing quite gels in this adventure, and the pace is ridiculously lacklustre – quite a damning complaint for a film that only barely limps past the 80 minute mark. Fans of the original anime will, doubtlessly, complain that Kite does a disservice to its source material, but this was likely a given (underage vice is not really a commercially promising proposal). Instead, the problem with Kite is, simply, that it doesn’t offer anything new in the vague ‘Lethal Lolita’ sub-genre.

Aesthetically accomplished but thematically lacking, Samuel L. Jackson does his best to prop-up a plot that lacks the ‘oomph’ factor.
SCORE: 2.5/5
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