This Tokyo action thriller film focuses on a hitman who must find out who poisoned her and left her with less than 24 hours to live. With Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Woody Harrelson.
It is almost a “tradition” that, every several months, Netflix releases an outright action movie, the kind that always end up at the top of its “Top 10”. Without the mass media or the nerve that normally awaits box office tanks such as Marvel and company, these films tend to pay their good dividends to the owners of the platform. And in general, these are films that abide by certain codes and styles of Asian action cinema and do so with a certain neatness, one could even say with dignity. KATE It is not going to change anything in the genre, it is not going to attract attention for revolutionizing any issue, but it is the type of film that works well within the objective that its directors and producers have.
“From creators of JOHN WICK» You might as well say the promotion of the film by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (the French director of THE HUNTER AND THE ICE QUEEN, a man who comes from the world of special effects) and he would be more or less right since David Leitch – who also directed ATOMIC, a film similar to this one in its action model – is one of the producers. But although this film takes place in Tokyo and has martial arts scenes similar to those of the other titles in this violent subgenre, at the same time it has some peculiarities that make it more, so to speak, “Japanese”. From the soundtrack to the fluorescent colors, the photography, some actors, dialogues and obviously the settings, KATE has more Asian cinema than most Hollywood movies that flirt with Asia.
In fact, only three actors in the film are not local. The protagonist is the Kate who gives the film its title, a hitman of those who work for who knows who and who is characterized by being accurate, effective and brutal. Played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a quite credible way – always within the very low plausibility of the genre – the girl is working in Japan under the orders of her boss Varrick, who has a paternal relationship with her that the flashbacks to her past will reveal little by little. Incarnated by Woody Harrelson, he is a character that appears little in the film but is key, fundamental in the plot.
At the beginning of the story we see Kate shoot him from afar and kill a dangerous member of the Japanese yakuza. But the problem is that they force her to do it in a way that she doesn’t like: in front of her teenage daughter, to whom the bullets pass very close and she sees how her father falls down beside her. The job is done, but Kate is upset with those who gave her the order. A few months later – and in a somewhat careless way for someone so professional – the girl spends a night with an American whom she meets in a bar (Michael Huisman, from GAME OF THRONES) just before a new “little job.” The next day, when he arrived at the scene, he began to feel dizzy, to feel bad and his shot ended up going anywhere. His later attempts to fix the matter only make it worse.
What has happened? In short, let’s say Kate was poisoned with some kind of radioactive product and she has no more than 24 hours to live. And from there the girl enters a race against time and the growing fragility of her trained body to discover who poisoned her, why and to take revenge on the person responsible. That will be the excuse for a series of chases, combats, action scenes and bloody massacres in and around Tokyo. In her adventures and quests, Kate will end up “hooking up” with Ani (Miku Martineau), the teenager whose father she killed in the first scene, and will take her on her back on her intense and colorful tour of the murkiest places and also the most luxurious of the city.
KATE It has something of a video game in the way it suspends reality, in the movement of its figures and scenes (car chases seem animated, there is a constant change of speeds and camera movements typical of some kind of game) and in the logic of stages and challenges that the protagonist has to go through. Nothing is out of the norm for this type of production, but the film still manages to be quite effective and consistent with its proposal. And Winstead rises to the occasion, in one of those roles that used to go to Sigourney Weaver or, more recently, Charlize Theron. The actress of the recent BIRDS OF PREY Not only does it manage to give a certain emotional dimension to the character – within the limits of the proposal, of course – but it is even credible by killing a dozen trained yakuza by itself.
It helps to have an important Japanese cast (led by the famous Tadanobu Asano and Jun Kunimura) that quickly place the viewer in a situation typical of a yakuza movie, the mafia of that country. And the combo between those traditions and the modernity of the all-resistant assassins – a specialty of Leitch and his partner Chad Stahelski, here portrayed by the ubiquitous stunt coordinator Jonathan Eusebio – works very well overall. If to that is added a soundtrack With a high proportion of Japanese pop, a lot of anime aesthetics and the character of Ani that responds almost to the stereotype of the “Japanese teenager”, it is very likely that the film works very well with different types of captive audiences on the platform. It is almost a Netflix formula, it is true, but in relation to other “original products” that the company launches, it is not insignificant that something like this is done more or less with dignity.
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Online premieres: review of “Kate”, by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (Netflix)