Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Kite


   To someone who hasn't seen over two thousand movies, Kite might seem groundbreaking and innovative. Unfortunately, I'm not that guy. I'm the guy who has seen over two thousand movies. Kite feels like the bastard child produced from a marriage of Leon The Professional, Dredd, and some cut-rate Neill Blomkamp flick. Except, it's not as fun as any of those movies, and this is coming from a guy who doesn't really even like Neill Blomkamp's movies. Kite has a young girl who's been brainwashed into her current state as a stone cold assassin, who's out to kill the man who murdered her father. Real original, right?

   It's based on an anime flick that's not really all that much better, all things considered. However, at least the anime crackles and swerves with style and exceptional animation. This movie has a sort of second hand style, borrowed from far superior films. The movie makes an effort to offer a consistent focal point of color against a bleak and now-generic dystopic cityscape. The girl, Sawa frequently wears brightly colored wigs- pink and red most often. If not the wig, then it's a bright yellow jacket.  It's... nice, but it's not nearly as clever or as visually as it seems like the filmmakers hoped it would've been. That's not to say the movie is visually bland, its just generic.

   Samuel Jackson is decent as Sawa's mentor/handler. As a city cop, he's been helping her find the man who killed her parents, leaving a trail of bodies in her wake. Sawa has one hell of a bag of tricks, and the movie would be a lot more fun if it embraced it's potential craziness. Think... Hit Girl from Kick-Ass as the protagonist of The Raid, and you have an idea of how crazy good this movie could've been. Unfortunately, it sticks to the tired and worn out Luc Besson tropes like its life depends on it. There's a few cool action scenes, and they're shining highlights of this inert little thriller, but the movie lacks a forward moving momentum. There's never a point where things just go 'off'.

   All action movies need a point like that. A point where the rest of the conflict and plotlines are resolved through action. Shootouts, chases, fights, et cetera. Aliens is a perfect example of how to do this. People seem to forget how slowly that movie builds. I think it's like 45 minutes before we even see one of the aliens? The plot and story builds through set pieces from that point on, but the last 40 minutes of the movie are just an absolute unrelenting thrill ride. The Matrix is like this too. There's not really a genuine action scene in that movie until it's halfway over. But once it starts... it doesn't stop. Kite is torn halfway between being an off-the-rails action movie, and a plodding cop thriller. It doesn't do either particularly well, but it had unlimited potential to at least get the action flick stuff right.

   Anyways, It's source material isn't revered by any avid fanbase. The little flick is mostly just a curio, because it's one half insane action thriller, and... one half porn. Yeah. The original anime is technically a hentai. The movie wisely skips over all the hardcore shit. But, for that matter, the old 70's exploitation flick, Thriller: A Cruel Picture is technically a better Kite movie than this one is. That one has all the violence, and porn bits. You'll get your money's worth. This movie isn't exactly... bad. It's just nothing special, and it really should've been. You can just feel the small budget, which is a shame. The anime went wild with Sawa's gun that shoots exploding bullets, but this movie uses it maybe... three times? And once is entirely off screen.

   This is the kind of crap action fans want to actually see. Jesus. The action scenes are the most stylish and energetic parts of the movie, and I enjoyed them, but it's bittersweet that they're also so short and they're too few in numbers to make much of an impact. The climax of the movie isn't a shootout. It's a series of conversations with the most predictable and telegraphed twist in motion picture history, if for no other reason than the fact it's been done a hundred thousand times before. The movie isn't very long, thankfully, so even with it's momentum issues, and it's lack of continuous action, there's never a chance to be bored. I didn't not enjoy it. It was acceptable entertainment that was well made, but it needed... more.

   Kite is suffocated in it's own genre by movies that do it's same shtick a thousand times better. Check out Dredd, Leon The Professional, La Femme Nikita, or District B-13 instead. The best news is that if you feel absolutely compelled to watch Kite for whatever reason, it's watchable at least. I bought it for like $3 on blu ray, and I don't regret the purchase. I don't know if I'd ever watch it again, but I can't rule it out completely. It was breezy enough to be adequate background noise while I work on something else, only having to look up at the screen whenever someone's head explodes in a glorious plume of old school practical gore and tangible fake blood. Anything less would've well and truly sunk Kite to being an absolute waste of time. It's just "okay" as is. Too dry and depressing to be fun, but stylish and gory enough to be watchable. For what it's worth I enjoyed it more than most of Besson's latterday efforts.

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