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Kite (2013)
Directors: David R. Ellis (deceased), Ralph Ziman

review by J.C. Hartley
Spoiler alert!
After offering to review this after seeing a brightly-coloured advert, and generally trusting Samuel L. Jackson, I wasn't prepared for what a little background research revealed. The source is a Japanese anime original video animation directed by Yasuomi Umetsu, which appears to have plumbed new lows in scenes of child-rape and gory violence. Thankfully, this live-action release keeps the sex to a minimum and, while it's certainly violent and gory, and earns its 'R' rating, it's short and brisk and watchably predictable.

After a caption informing us that following a banking collapse the city is run by cartels, and occupied by gangs kidnapping children for the 'flesh-markets', the movie begins with a dystopian city-scape. A sleazy low-life takes a girl back to his apartment. Engaging in what they used to call 'heavy-petting' in the lift, he objects to the disparaging remarks of the little old lady accompanying their elevator ride. When he starts knocking the old lady about, his companion whips out a piece of heavy ordinance and plugs him in the forehead with an exploding shell. The girl makes her escape, removing her bright red wig to reveal a young woman of indeterminate age.

Next on the scene are cops Detective Prinsloo (Deon Lotz) and Karl Aker (Samuel L. Jackson). Prinsloo is concerned that the hardware used to kill the victim is police/ military grade, and seems suspicious of Aker; all with good reason. We see Aker in a rundown (everything is rundown) apartment block with the girl assassin. She is Sawa (India Eisley) the daughter of Aker's partner murdered on the orders of the Emir, the Mr Big who runs the child-kidnapping Numbers gangs hoovering up kids off the streets to supply the cartels. Whacked-out on drugs to block flashback memories of her parents' murder, Sawa is Mathilda to Aker's Leon. Well not quite, in fact hardly at all.

Sawa poses as a prostitute trying to get the tip-off about the upcoming big shipment, slaughtering as she goes and more by luck than judgement she moves closer to her quarry. Witnessing the killing of a gang member, who turns out to have been an undercover cop, she rescues a young girl and is herself rescued by Oburi (Callan McAuliffe), who claims to have known her, and her parents. Encouraged by Oburi to withdraw from the drugs that are suppressing her memories, Sawa recalls more past events.

Finally confronting the Emir, Sawa has to face another revelation when Oburi takes her to meet his father, an ex-cop who precipitated her father's killing, when he failed to back him up as he was about to expose Karl Aker for selling arms to the gangs. Revealed as Sawa's parents' true killer, Karl has to face his protégé.

A pretty predictable comicbook garish splatter-fest, Kite isn't as repulsive as it threatens to be. Made in Johannesburg with what seems like a multi-national cast sporting multi-national accents, although South African predominates, it doesn't seem too long, but I would have said straight-to-DVD for form and content. Eisley is pretty good, although if we were being petty she hardly convinces as a martial arts killing machine. McAuliffe is suspiciously clean and tidy in a grimy sweaty world. Big Sam gets to wear shades and do his thing.


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