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  • USA
  • 2014
  • 90 mins
  • DCP
  • English
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Renowned Japanese anime KITE finally has its cinematic adaptation. The live-action version of controversial animated series, which many thought would never see the light of day, is coming to our screens — and it hasn’t lost its bite.

Sawa (India Eisley) is a young orphaned girl trying to find her away in a city overflowing with corruption, drugs and human trafficking. With the help of her father’s ex-partner, Karl Aker (Samuel L. Jackson), she tracks down her dad’s assassins. As the bodies pile up in her wake, it becomes harder and harder for Karl to cover up Sawa’s crusade. She is slowly attracting the attention of not only several other criminals, but also that of Oburi (Callon McAuliffe), who knows more about her past than she thinks.

If you think that you’re not familiar with Yasuomi Umetsu’s KITE, you’ve probably been exposed to it without knowing it. It has influenced a number of artists in recent years, including the band No Doubt, which used one of its sequences in their “Ex-Girlfriend” music video. Quentin Tarantino even asked Chiaki Kuriyam to use Sawa as a source of inspiration for Gogo in KILL BILL. Widely considered a cult anime, KITE was in the sights of numerous producers. The rumours having circulated for years on the web, the project changing hands repeatedly before finally landing on David R. Ellis’ desk — Ellis unfortunately died in mid pre-production. Screenwriter Ralph Ziman kept the fans’ flicker of hope alive by taking over the reins and delivering a finished product that is very faithful to the original manga. One can easily sense the comic-book influence in both the directing and its aesthetics. Despite finding themselves in an over-the-top universe, the actors don’t overact. Samuel L. Jackson reminds us why he’s in everything at the moment and young India Eisley is a genuine discovery. We’re definitely not done seeing her kick some ass. Ralph Ziman has brilliantly succeeded in blending the ingredients that make KITE a mythical work of art that still gets talked about 15 years later. Unfortunately, those expecting to see an OAV will be disappointed. Ralph opted for a sexy, rather than sexual, approach — although just as bloody violent.

— Éric S. Boisvert