Saturday, January 17, 2015

3+1 Short Paragraphs: Kite

2014, Ralph Ziman -- download

I have a thing for movies about violent young women. I blame Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita, my first exposure to a foreign language film. Or maybe his follow-up Léon, otherwise known as The Professional. But I am not alone here; its a pop culture character trait for pretty young things with big guns to appeal to men. The trope considers it Small Girls, Big Guns and its a very big thing in Japanese anime (see Gunslinger Girl as an extreme example), so its not surprising this movie is adapted from such. And while I have seen the anime Kite, I am not sure I can include it in my like category.

The original anime holds the core story -- a very young girl observes the murder of her parents and is taken under the wing of one of the investigating detectives. He raises her as a killer, so she can eventually find and assassinate her parents killer. The anime was much more insidious, having the detective Akai also use her as a (underage) sex slave, which is not present in the live action movie. That's not surprising; can you imagine how that would go over with American audiences?

The movie has Akai played by Samuel L Jackson, in one of his typical over the top cop roles, loudly dressed, loudly acted and doing his own branch of insidious. Sawa is played by Selena Gomez lookalike, India Eisley, last seen in an Underworld movie. It all takes place in a world not quite our own, I envisioned it being the strange pseudo-Europe of the Blade and said Underworld movies.  Its the latest dystopia of post financial collapse (also used in The Rover) that allows lawlessness and corruption to go unchecked, lending itself to ultra violence and kids carrying guns.

Its a stylish violence movie, set entirely in filthy streets showing us only violent people or the people abused by both criminals and the system. Sawa and her head exploding bullets, killing her way up a food chain of bad guys that Jackson gets to see eliminated without a trial. *SPOILER* Of course, he initiated it all, having murdered her parents to begin with, so she ends her spree with him.  But no, its not as stylish as Besson, nor sex-ified as it could have been. In another age, this would have been more indie feeling, honing its story and style down to something more meaty. Unfortunately, its really just grade C violence.