Review: KITE (2014) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Review: KITE (2014)

0 stars
0 stars
For a supposedly sleazy B-movie that even fails to qualify as a guilty-pleasure entertainment, this live-action version of KITE is as good as watching a kite being let go and flies away into oblivion.


In 1998, Yasuomi Umetsu shook the anime world when he created an OVA (Original Video Animation) feature called KITE. The result was terribly mixed as some were truly disgusted by the content while others hailed it as a cult masterpiece. Whichever it turns out to be, there's no denying that KITE was one of the most daring and controversial animes ever made that didn't shy away such provocative content of hentai-level child pornography and unflinching nature of graphic violence. More than a decade later, I'm surprised that there's a studio which is bold enough to remake that legendary anime into a live-action version. Originally to be helmed by SNAKES ON A PLANE director David R. Ellis but died shortly before the production went underway in Johannesburg, the movie was instead replaced by former South African music video director Ralph Ziman. Despite the recognizable presence of Samuel L. Jackson in the cast, this live-action version of KITE is sadly a D.O.A.

WHAT IS IT ALL ABOUT?

Like the anime version, KITE centres on a vengeful teenage girl named Sawa (India Eisley) who is trying to infiltrate a notorious prostitution ring run by a mysterious character called the Emir. In order for her to dispatch her enemy, she often disguised herself as a call girl who wears brightly-coloured wigs and carries a specially-modified gun capable to shoot a bullet that explodes a few seconds after the gunshot impact. She also receives help from her dead father's ex-partner Karl Aker (Samuel L. Jackson) and whenever she is not on the killing spree, she will spends her time trying to combat her PTSD by injecting herself a designer drug called "Amp", which allows her to relax and forget her murky past.
  
THE GOOD STUFF
 
The movie can't even find a proper footing from the minute one and stays as good as dead right until the pathetic finale. Any chance for good things worth praising here for is strictly out of the question.

MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT(S)
 
I was really hoping that the director can at least give me some jolt of excitement with worthwhile hyper-stylized action sequences. He even fails to deliver that, and that pisses me off a lot in a big way.

THE BAD STUFF
  
Where to start? This could go on forever if I have to nitpick everything that goes awfully wrong with this piece of turd. It's a real pity that David R. Ellis passed away unexpectedly because he would have bring some guilty-pleasure fun to the movie. I mean, if you have seen his past movies like FINAL DESTINATION 2, CELLULAR or SNAKES ON A PLANE, you'll know what I mean. However, under the hands of Ralph Ziman, his direction is terribly haphazard. First, he has no sense of pacing and rhythm. His direction comes across as amateurish as he gets. Even his so-called attempt to inject a series of hyper-stylized action set pieces falls flat in the surface because there is zero sense of dramatic urgency. Most of the action scenes are hastily edited in quick cuts and the presence of graphic violence feels surprisingly cartoonish than potentially shocking. Although the movie runs only at 90 minutes, it does the impossible by dragging the momentum as bad as it goes.

The script, in the meantime, is a crushing bore where Brian Cox fills in with tired genre cliches after genre cliches and he doesn't even bother to give Samuel L. Jackson a few would-be classic one-liners or colourful profanities for him to speak out throughout the movie.

Speaking of Samuel L. Jackson, I'm sure he's like doing David R. Ellis, whom they worked together before in SNAKES ON A PLANE, as a favour of sorts. You can really see the level of disinterest in his eyes and lack of his usual acting enthusiasm in his performance. This is definitely one of the worst performances he's ever acted in his career. India Eisley, who supposed to hit a big break playing the kind of provocative role that made young actress like Chloe Grace Moretz famous for portraying Hit-Girl in KICK-ASS (2010), feels terribly one-note here. Problem is, her acting comes across as stiff and hardly engaging at all. Same goes with the rest of the supporting actors -- all equally forgettable and underutilized.

Production design is downright shoddy and devoid of personality nor creativity at any manner. It feels as if the entire set is shot on a leftover setting.

FINAL WORDS

This live-action version of KITE is a total train wreck of a movie. Do yourself a favour and go rewatch the anime version instead. It's hundred times better than this garbage that barely excites one tiny bit.

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