KATE (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: After she’s poisoned, a ruthless criminal operative has less than 24 hours to exact revenge on her enemies and in the process forms an unexpected bond with the daughter of one of her past victims.
When the opening credits tell you that 87North Productions is behind it. You know for sure the action is going to be good even though the plotting is clearly paper-thin.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead last seen in Birds of Prey and Gemini Man puts on a solid performance as a dying badass assassin on the loose to take revenge on those responsible for poisoning her. Trained by her mentor, Varrick (Woody Harrelson) to be a ruthless fighter since young, Kate decides to lead a normal life after completing one final mission. Alas, Kate is poisoned by deadly radiation after a one night stand with a mysterious stranger.
With only 24 hours left to live, she sets off to look for Kijima (Jun Kunimura), the boss of a powerful yakuza whom she suspects to be the culprit. In order to lure Kijima out of his lair, Kate decides to kidnap his niece, Ani (Miku Martineau) only to find out that there are more than meets the eyes regarding her downfall.
With the success of Extraction (another one of 87North Productions), Netflix decides to deliver yet another 90’s throwback action flick this time starring a strong female lead. The formula remains more or less the same. Given the non-stop absurd amount of dead bodies and gore and violence bone breaking, no one will have the time to actually question the plausibility and credibility of the story. The movie directed by French director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan (The Huntsman: Winter’s War) focused solely on one thing- that is making sure the fight choreography and stuntwork is exhilarating .
Not surprisingly, Kate brought on the action shortly after Kate is poisoned first in a prolonged scene in a restaurant where tonnes of Japanese sliding paper doors are smashed and henchmen are brutally killed. Another expertly choreographed scene has Kate taking on numerous yakuza members in an alley. Expect more visceral punching and tossing bodies out of the window. The kills are in fact highly imaginative compared to the narrative.
Still, there’s a brief sentimental story between Kate and Ani. Not exactly on the level of convincing given that she is the one responsible for killing Ani’s dad earlier. But with the turn of events, Kate settles on protecting Ani till her last breath. To be fair, the writing doesn’t really allow Mary Elizabeth Winstead a charismatic actress a lot to work on given her character has more pressuring matters on hand to settle and men to dispose.
Shot in Japan, Thailand and LA, the cinematography and production design has a futuristic neon anime feel which is a plus. Instead of a gun-toting white man saving the world, Kate replaces it with a badass heroine. As far as disposable action flicks go, Kate should be on top of your streaming list if you love a female John Wick.
Review by Linus Tee