Kite now joins a host of other Western films that have adapted anime in live-action, including the likes of Transformers (2007) and sequels, Speed Racer (2008), Blood: The Last Vampire (2009), Dragonball: Evolution (2009) and Ghost in the Shell (2017). The genre was begun several years earlier with the usually low-budget likes of The Guyver (1991), Crying Freeman (1995) and Fist of the North Star (1995), while there have been plans for a live-action version of Akira (1988) for more than a decade now. Surprisingly, it took the Japanese several years to get into the act themselves with live-action remakes of Casshern (2004), Devilman (2004), YatterMan (2009), Space Battleship Yamato (2010), Kikis Delivery Service (2014), Lupin III (2014), Attack on Titan (2015) and Fullmetal Alchemist (2017), which are far superior to the Western equivalents.
Sawa is one of those heroines that you suspect fuels more the creators sexual fetishes that it does any desire to create an empowered kickass heroine see other examples like the heroines in Blood: The Last Vampire (2000) or Kick-Ass (2010). What we essentially have here is The Punisher but played by a barely adolescent girl. In this case, Sawa has been cast with someone who maximises the lithe and sexy image while also looking about as close to being legal as it was possible to get away with. Expectedly though, the US version has cut out all of the sexual content at most, we now have Sawa outfitted in a series of scanty outfits and using her sex appeal to get close to the gang members.
In terms of adapting the anime, the film has done little more than take the basic concept and watered it down to an anodyne action movie. There is even the expected whitewashing the characters all retain their Japanese names but have been cast with Western faces (there is not a single Asian actor to be spotted anywhere in the film). The other oddity is that the film has been shot in South Africa no particular problem with that as the country has become a popular destination for low-cost shooting in recent years. The city where the story takes place is never specified but despite this most of the supporting cast members all speak with noticeable South African accents, even local slang, which becomes a little incongruous when the leads India Eisley and Samuel L. Jackson continue to speak with American accents.
The action scenes are slickly processed but, like every single thing else in the film, quickly disappear into an instant forgettability. Even the plotting is standard material for the vigilante genre. The film does have the interesting notion of the heroine trying to remember the details of the people she is hunting and the original incident in which her parents were killed despite being addicted to a drug that is slowly erasing her memory this is something that holds great promise for a more character-driven thriller but is indifferently dealt with here, especially when it comes to a left field twist ending of monumental indifference. The entire film shouts out direct-to-dvd release. You only wonder what the filmmakers did to entice a well-known name like Samuel L. Jackson to its backlot maybe something like kidnap one of his grandchildren.
Kite was the fourth film for South African-born director Ralph Ziman who had previously gained an international name for his work in music video. Ziman had previously made the films Hearts & Minds (1995), The Zookeeper (2001) and Jerusalema (2008), all non-genre works. Ziman took over at short notice after scheduled director David R. Ellis, known for films such as Cellular (2004), Snakes on a Plane (2006), Shark Night 3D (2011) and a couple of the entries in the Final Destination series, died during pre-production.