There’s no doubt that the original version of Kite by Yasuomi Umetsu carries weight with anime enthusiasts throughout the world. But as one of the UTF Editor’s told me, “you have to be in a certain mindset to watch.” The same thing can be said about this 2014 iteration, but don’t worry that’s not a bad thing.
Fans will be happy to know that in this re-invention the basic plot remains the same. A young girl loses her parents to the criminal element and she goes on to lead a questionable life with the pursuit of their killer always in mind. In the end the story of Sawa is different, that’s true, but the key elements are present along with a clear admiration for the source material. We have a decayed government, drug use and the conundrum of how far someone, anyone, might be willing to go to balance their personal scales. Through that intent and care the flick becomes an adaptation along the lines of V for Vendetta (2005) oppose to say the nightmare that was Dragonball: Evolution (2009).
The direction for the film pushes out grisly images and violence throughout. But the magic of this yarn is the fact that Ralph Ziman made a conscious effort to translate several key moments form the 1998 OVA. The canvas of the piece relies on warm but at times dulled colors to convey the life within this city. It’s all very stylized, which at times worked against the picture as a few sequences felt too wonky. But we’re still left with a solid experience and besides the exploding bullets are here so all’s forgiven.
To be frank the core tension among our primaries needed to be translated or I’d be disappointed. To my pleasure Sawa, Oburi and Aker (originally known as Akai) arrived on screen with little fuss or muss. First and foremost I want to compliment India Eisley who held her own as a beautiful girl taking on the underworld. Callan McAuliffe also did a commendable job as the love interest but it’s the legendary Samuel L. Jackson that makes the whole thing pop. Right from his first moment he carries a gravitas that fits his character who, in truth, helps legitimize a place that could turn a young woman into an assassin. There were scenes where the performances felt rather awkward but the whole of the display managed to thrive.
The musical score by Paul Hepker kept this outing rolling right along. It gave it some much needed energy especially during moments that needed an extra oomph to sell what they were showing. I never heard a specific song that stood out for me, but the composer delivered a soundtrack that never took me out of the fray. All of the sequences therein found support from these notes as they functioned just fine.
Kite got an exclusive DIRECTV Premiere on August 28th but hits theaters, On Demand and iTunes October 10th. So be sure to catch this one then because it comes recommended.