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Kite: the Movie

Sunday 12th October 2014

Hugh David on the live-action remake of the anime classic

Kite: the MovieRight, hands up those of you who have been betting on which 1990s anime would get a Western live-action remake first.  Ok, who had Ghost in the Shell? Evangelion? Cowboy Bebop? But Yasuomi Umetsu’s notorious sexed-up actioner Kite (1998) has beaten them all to the screen, starring anime fan Samuel L. Jackson. The tale of a teenage girl assassin brutally wiping out street criminals at the behest of a corrupt cop while pursuing her own vendetta has come into its own, with Chloe Moretz’s Hit Girl making the core violence more palatable to modern audiences and Western live-action films borrowing from Japan all year (e.g. Godzilla, Edge of Tomorrow).

The version arriving now is not the one reported several years ago from The Fast and the Furious/XXX director Rob Cohen, but an international co-production written by producer Brian Cox and directed by South African Ralph Ziman, who did the solid 2008 gangster pic Jerusalema.  Sadly, Ziman had to take over from American genre specialist David R. Ellis (Snakes on a Plane), who died during the making of it, but the film clearly bears Ziman’s stamp.

South Africa has become a popular location for filming, with Cape Town and its environs often standing in for other locations.  However, the anime-influenced SF actioner District 9 helped move the focus to Johannesburg and the Transvaal, where several films have now been shot, including 2000AD comic adaptation Dredd.  With its history of actual crime and poverty it seems that Joburg is Western cinema’s new vision of near-future urban decay, which is what it serves as here. Between the various accents on display (American, British, South African) the intent is clear: this could be any major city of the future, given the way crime is going.

The anime may be internationally popular, but its most notorious element was never going to make it to a live-action version.  Removing the underage erotic component means that Jackson’s cop character has to control our heroine Sawa in a different way, and a future drug that causes memory loss becomes the key to that control.  However, the original anime was only an hour long, so the script adds in a new component to make a ninety-minute feature: street gangs that sell children to the criminal underworld, whom Sawa goes after when they take one girl in particular.  Now her actions are about much more than just her own concerns.

Ziman keeps things gritty and stylised, with most of the major action scenes from the anime intact e.g. the initial elevator encounter, the mens’ bathroom shoot-out; outdoor action scenes are enhanced with parkour stunts, while the f/x crew give their blood bags a real work-out, staging some gory kills. All in all, the film keeps a big part of what fans of the original were fond of, but adds a kick-ass heroine in U.S. actress India Eisley that should attract a whole new audience in between Kick-Ass films.

Kite, the movie, is out this month on UK DVD and Blu-ray from Anchor Bay.

Buy it now


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The adventure explodes into action with the debut of Mewtwo, a bio-engineered Pokémon created from the DNA of Mew, one of the rarest Pokémon of all. After escaping from the lab where it was created, Mewtwo is determined to prove its own superiority. It lures a number of talented Trainers into a Pokémon battle like never before—and of course, Ash and his friends are happy to accept the challenge!

Ash’s excitement turns to fear and anger when Mewtwo reveals its plan for domination, creating powerful clones of our heroes’ Pokémon so it can even the “imbalance” between Pokémon and their Trainers. Despite Ash’s protests, Mewtwo refuses to believe that Pokémon and people can be friends. But faced with the determination and loyalty of a young Trainer, Mewtwo just might have to reconsider…especially when pitted against the power of the mysterious Mew!


Just one person can make a difference…

In the Orange Islands far south of Kanto, a Trainer named Lawrence is on a sinister quest: catching the Legendary Pokémon Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres in an attempt to awaken Lugia, guardian of the sea! When Ash and friends arrive, the islanders ask him to gather three elemental orbs from different islands. As the weather across the world goes out of control, it becomes clear that the capture of the Legendary trio has thrown the environment out of balance! With Lugia’s help, can Ash find the orbs, restore the balance, and be the “chosen one” that everyone turns to?


A crystal catastrophe is unleashed upon Greenfield, and Ash, Pikachu, and friends must figure out how to undo the damage to the once-beautiful town. But the unthinkable happens when Ash’s mother is kidnapped by the powerful Entei, a Pokémon thought to have existed only in legend. Now Ash must go to her rescue, uncertain of what he’ll uncover when he unlocks the real secret power behind the unbelievable turn of events: a young girl whose dream world is being turned into a nightmarish reality by the mysterious and unstoppable Unown!



Spyair: Back with the Best

Tom Smith on the return of one of anime's most popular rock bands
So where do the guys go from here? On their biggest domestic tour, that’s where! At least that was the plan, but halfway through the mostly soldout schedule, vocalist IKE suddenly takes to Twitter to make an announcement that would shock everyone, including his bandmates. The message simply stated; “I will leave SPYAIR”.


Andrew Osmond has been here before…
Some sci-fi plots are staples of anime. The boy who pilots a fighting robot; humans who evolve into cyborgs; cute space girls who fall for the biggest doofus in Japan. Compared to these, time-travel has never been a big anime genre, though it’s been used on many occasions.

Nigeria's Astro Boy

Jasper Sharp on the oddest anime export yet
By the time you’ve read this, the eight 15-minute episodes of Robot Atom will have been aired by the Nigerian broadcast network Channels TV. Based on one of anime’s most iconic creations, Tezuka Productions’ Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atomu), this Nigerian-Japanese co-production brings a new slant to glocalization
This week we have the home video release of Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ for you, but that's not all! See below for some GREAT deals on all of our February titles.

Anime on iTunes

Discover a whole new world of anime on your tablet or phone
There's a whole bunch of Manga Entertainment titles available for direct download on the iTunes site, including Shinji Aramaki's Appleseed, Mamoru Hosoda's Wolf Children, and K-on: The Movie.

When Marnie Was There

Andrew Osmond on what’s next for Studio Ghibli
In December, Studio Ghibli announced its next feature film to the world, looking ahead to summer 2014 and When Marnie was There, based on a British children’s book by Joan Robinson.
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