Film: (Non-director’s cut gets )
Written & Directed by Yasuomi Umetsu
- Trailers for other anime titles
- Dolby 2.0, DTS 5.1, and THX sound options
Doc Ezra’s Anime Warnings:
- Graphic violence
- Strong language
- Child abuse
- Graphic sex
Rating: 18+ Only.
Anamorphic: Nope. Presented in 1.33:1 aspect ratio
My Advice: Buy the non-Director’s Cut, avoid the child porn and rape fantasies.
Sawa is your average, every-day cute college co-ed. Complete with stereotypical school uniform, pigtails, and a lunchbox that holds tasty treats plus a pistol that fires high-caliber explosive rounds and some tiddlywink-sized grenades. Normal, right? Well, for Sawa, who is a highly-trained assassin in the vein of La Femme Nikita (the movie version, not the goofy TV show) or Leon of The Professional fame, it’s just life. Orphaned when her parents were murdered, she is trained and directed by a sleazy cop that has grown tired of people slipping through the system’s cracks only to do more bad.
In theory, the plot sounds like a great flick. Especially when complicated by a fellow assassin/love interest, and the fact that Sawa’s “mentor” is exploitive and abusive towards her. And if you watch the original DVD release of the film (not this Director’s Cut), you get a decent anime flick. Lots of action, running gunfights, tragic plot twists, and vengeance a-plenty. But Kite stands in the very select company of Director’s Cuts That Should Not Be. Taking a hardcore action flick and re-inserting scenes that make it a hardcore action porn flick doesn’t really improve on anything, in this writer’s humble opinion. A perfectly decent (albeit short) movie is essentially ruined by unnecessary and gratuitous rape scenes that do little or nothing to advance the plot of the flick.
The much-anticipated (for reasons that escape me) Director’s Cut of Kite adds approximately fifteen minutes of raw, explicit, and entirely non-consensual sex scenes to what was a solid, well-paced guns-blazing anime. And nothing else. In fact, the older, non-porn DVD actually has some extras, which this version notably lacks. As an aside, the DVD begins with a disclaimer that assures us that all individuals depicted engaged in sexual activity are intended to be nineteen years old or older. But don’t believe it. The pitch is supposed to be that Sawa is a college student, but everything from her dress to her dialogue indicates someone likely in high school, at best. English translators are just scrambling to cover their asses because this hentai amounts to little more than the twisted adolescent fantasies of a tiny (and often-reviled) subset of anime fandom that actually wants to see cute anime heroines in submissive sexual situations (against their will or no), and isn’t bothered by the child-abuse implications.
These additions aside, the movie is great, ultraviolent fun. Sawa kills people that pretty much have it coming. There aren’t a great number of ethically “grey” characters. You have They Who Must Be Killed, and They Who Do The Killing, and it’s all pretty cut and dried, aside from Sawa’s boss and his partner, who are both pretty slimy and reprehensible from the get-go. The action scenes are incredible and frequent, so the pace of the movie jumps from beginning to end, with only enough slow spots to catch your breath before the brass starts flying again.
As stated, the DVD contains no extras to speak of. Some trailers pitching other potentially sketchy “adult” anime, and that’s about it. For DVD quality, the animation looks good, and sounds good. But so does the version that doesn’t include rape scenes. And it has storyboards and image galleries.