Yasuomi Umetsu’s 1998 anime feature Kite might not be familiar to those who don’t take a keen interest in the genre. Those who have heard of it before will probably know that it was infamous for its violence and sexual content, which led to it being banned in Norway and heavily censored in the original US release.
The upcoming live action remake might have slipped under the radar as well, had it not been for the casting of Samuel L. Jackson in a leading role. This significant star power is clearly going to be central to the marketing of Kite, which was directed by Ralph Ziman, and it’s Jackson who offers an introduction to a video showing the trailer and several new clips.
In premise, Kite could be compared to other child assassin films like Hanna and Léon, though based on the trailer it seems to be going for more of a pulp feel. The main character, Sawa, is an orphaned girl seeking revenge for the death of the parents, aided by Karl (Jackson), an ex-cop who used to be her father’s partner.
Aside from Jackson – who, based on his introduction, seems to have picked out Kite as a passion project – the film is comprised largely of little-known talents, both in front of the camera and behind it. Lead actor India Eisley is best known for her part in ABC’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, while fellow assassin Oburi is played by Callan McAuliffe, who was most recently seen playing a teenaged Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
The trailer and clips pay homage to anime aesthetics, and between the over-the-top gory action and vibrant colors seem to be drawing on films like Kick-Ass and Sin City. The acting is a little bit patchy and it looks like Kite has been somewhat toned down from its hentai origins, but it looks pretty entertaining and Jackson’s presence alone makes it worth at least a rental.
Kite is set for distribution by The Weinstein Company, but doesn’t yet have a release date.