Kite (1998) Movie Review

Yasuomi Umetsu’s one-hour animation, “Kite” (which is actually compiled from 2 25-minute episodes), suffers from what I like to call Dumb Action Movie Clich’s. DAMC is responsible for a lot of the things that makes audiences roll their eyes. “Kite”, a movie about two young teen orphans who are raised and trained to be elite assassins by a crooked cop, takes some dents by way of boneheaded moves and character motivations only possible in Dumb Action Movies.

The DAMC in question includes at least a dozen or so situations where characters have another character in their gun sight, but instead of just shooting them (and, most likely, ending our movie right there), the characters elect not to shoot for reasons supplied by DAMC. Another DAMC that plagues “Kite” involves situations where a character showcases superior gun prowess by shooting a gun out of another character’s hand. You would think that shooting the person holding the gun would be easier, since they are much bigger targets. Point is, Dumb Action Movies since the dawn of time have lived by DAMC, and “Kite” continues that tradition.

The movie is about Sawa, a teen orphan whose parents are killed by crooked cop Akai, who then gets the bright idea to sexually molest the girl and turn her into his hired killer. Helping Akai to hire Sawa and another teen killer name Oburi out to clients is Kanie, a civilian. The two grown men professes to only kill perverts and criminals, although that doesn’t prevent them from raping poor Sawa on a daily basis. And despite the fact that she has killed numerous men without batting an eye and has the skills to take on multiple large bodyguards at once, Sawa (by way of DAMC) refuses to exact revenge on the two men most responsible for her miseries.

If I were to delve into the “intricacies” of “Kite” I would mention that writer/director Umetsu is trying to say something about need and dependency, but I just don’t care enough to bother. On the other spectrum of the hapless Sawa is Oburi, the male teen killer, who is in the process of untangling himself from Akai and Kanie’s web. Although saying that the two men have Sawa in an iron grip wouldn’t be correct, because she comes and goes as she pleases. I guess Umetsu is trying to make a point about her continued willingness to be dominated by them. Misplaced parental issues, anyone?

“Kite” is a bloody, violent, and sexually explicit movie. The Unrated version doesn’t flinch away from showing explicit scenes of Sawa’s many rapes at the hands of Akai and Kanie. Even more disturbing is that Umetsu presents Sawa as something of an ing’nue, and although the movie makes mention that she’s in college, she still wears the school girl uniform that perverted Japanese men’s fantasies are made of. If I haven’t made it clear, “Kite” is not for children. The film is a smorgasbord of blood and sex. And in Sawa’s case, child rape.

But if you can stand “Kite” through its long scenes of rape, the movie offers up a series of exciting action sequences. Even for animation, “Kite” features some truly awesome action that feels realistic. Because the two teens are armed with custom guns that fire exploding rounds, there are plenty of exploding hands, heads, and bodies. The gore and blood flies freely and frequently in “Kite”.

Think of “Kite” as an animated version of John Woo’s “The Killer”, only with heavy doses of sleazy sex thrown in between the stylized kill scenes.

Yasuomi Umetsu (director) / Yasuomi Umetsu (screenplay)


Buy Kite on DVD