Kate is a killer.
Yeah, you could say she has killer good looks, but she’s actually a straight-up killer. Trained by her mentor and father-figure, Varrick, she started in the assassination biz when she was just a young girl—right after her parents were both murdered—and has been going strong ever since.
Of course, now that she’s in her 30s, Kate’s kinda thinking that she’s been a part of this deadly circus a bit too long. She hasn’t had a life of her own. She’s been “managed” and “handled,” but never really lived. And after a recent Osaka, Japan, mission, involving a target with his daughter standing right next to him, Kate has finally made up her mind to leave.
Kate may be an assassin. But she’s always had one rule of her own. One simple rule: no kids! But now her handlers have pushed her to break that boundary. So, Kate’s quitting. She’s agreed to one last hit, but after that she’s out.
Varrick eyes her when she tells him of her plans and asks what she could possibly want from this “real life” she keeps talking about. “Family, kids, picket fence, dogs, suburbs?” he wonders. “Yeah, something like that,” she replies.
Before Kate can finish her job and follow through on her plans, however, something unexpected happens. After a casual fling with a guy she meets at her hotel bar, she ends up poisoned. But it’s not food poisoning or maybe a bottle of wine gone bad. No, she finds she’s suffering from accelerated ARS: acute radiation syndrome.
She’s somehow been targeted with Polonium 204, a radioactive substance that there’s no coming back from. And after she staggers up from unconsciousness, the hospital doc says she has about a day left to live. “But don’t worry,” he tells her. “We’ll make you as comfortable as possible.”
Kate isn’t worried about comfort, though. She wants answers. Was this poisoning a blowback from her last job? Is it a hit from another secretive organization? Something even more personal? She’s got 24 hours to find out who wants her dead and why. And she’s got 20-plus years of experience and skills to help her find and rip out every answer she wants.
When she finds what she needs, then someone—or a lot of someones—will die for what they’ve taken from her.
Kate wanted a real life. Now she’s going to dole out some bloody death.
The one positive in this story of violence and death is the fact that Kate wants to embrace a happy and contented life. For her, that involves the possibility of settling down and having a family.
Kate later meets a teen girl named Ani who’s connected to the Kijima clan, a Yakuza gang that Kate’s trying to infiltrate. The two connect. Kate sees some part of the family she’s longed for in Ani. And Ani, in turn, sees Kate as a representation of the tough and resilient mother she never knew.
Kate also takes steps to protect Ani and to keep her separate from the violence that’s taking place. “You’re young. You have time to forget,” she tells the girl.
Kate hooks up with a guy she meets at a bar. They go back to her room to have sex. We see the two kissing, undressing and caressing on the bed before the camera cuts away. She’s wearing her underwear, and he’s shirtless.
There’s more male skin bared in this pic than female. Kate walks through a bathhouse filled with naked men, for instance. They’re covered only with loin cloths. Several other men in the film strip off shirts or robes to bare their upper bodies.
This film prides itself on its blood, gore and violence. Throughout the course of her encounters with large, angry Yakuza gang members, Kate gets pummeled with fists; battered with various weapons and solid objects; thrown, kicked, stabbed and shot over and over again.
Her physical form and features become more and more bloodied and torn after each successive conflict—including heavily bleeding scalp wounds; a bloody, pounded-out pupil; a wound in her cheek opened by slowly pressed-in scissor blades; and scores of nasty bruises and scars on her shoulders, arms and upper body. (She removes her bloody shirt, for instance, to stitch up an open knife wound on her waist, which reveals dark purple bruising all over her torso.)
On top of all that the radiation poisoning also impacts Kate, giving her nose bleeds and causing her to regularly spit up quantities of blood and bile.
The men Kate attacks, however, all receive the worst of it. We see throats vividly slashed and left gushing. Bullets blow out neks and heads. Swords impale and gut men. Heads are lopped off. Kate uses knifes to stab eyes, as well as and jam up through chins and out noses.
We see a number of victims with their skulls split open by either bullets or heavy objects. Legs and arms are snapped sideways in the midst of battle. One guy gets killed by a defibrillator zap to his temples. A man is pushed face-first into a red-hot grill. Someone is electrocuted after falling onto live electric wires. And several men are used as human meat shields before being shot point-blank in the face and discarded.
In all of the group conflicts, there are at least a few victims left writhing and moaning, some with gut shots, others with profusely bleeding wounds.
There are about 25 f-words and a dozen s-words mixed into the script with a handful of uses each of “a–hole,” “b–ch” and “b–tard.” “Whore” is spit out once as is a misuse of God’s name.
Lots of different people smoke throughout the film, including Kate. Kate drinks wine in a couple different scenes. And it’s implied that she’s poisoned through a bottle of wine. There are others drinking in a bar setting. While in the hospital, Kate holds a doctor at gunpoint and gets five syringes filled with a powerful stimulant. She injects herself at various points in the film to counteract the physically debilitating effects of her radiation poisoning.
Kate vomits repeatedly from the effect of her poisoning and removes teeth due to her toxicity as well. Several men disdain Ani’s mixed Japanese and gaijin heritage. Someone calls her a “half-race b–ch.”
There’s a Hollywood movie trend these days to demonstrate the industry’s progressively modern bona fides by casting a female lead in your typical hard-hitting actioner. It’s often as believable as tossing an average movie reviewer into an MMA ring and expecting a keyboard-jockey win.
That said, star Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s blend of pretty and gritty can almost make you believe that stereotype anyway. You almost swallow the idea that she could be poisoned with radioactive material; jacked up with stimulants; battered repeatedly about the face, head and upper body; shot once or twice; and still be ready to take on a room full of Yakuza thugs after a bloody spit and a gore-encrusted squint. Like I said: Almost.
Of course, there’s more than just believing when it comes to the kind of pulp violence shown here. To get into this pic, you have to kinda enjoy seeing a woman being pounded, stabbed and bloodily abused for 90 minutes. And then you’ll also have to revel in all her muscled, male attackers being rent and ripped in turn as the titular heroine pokes blades in eyes, blows out throats, mercilessly rams sharp objects up through jaws and pops heads like so many gory soap bubbles. You’ve gotta really dig this movie’s stylized ballet of butchery to make it to end credits.
Oh, and you shouldn’t have any queasiness about really nasty language either. Because Kate doesn’t hold back when it comes to noxiously profane spews. Even from its teen stars.
So, keep all of that in mind when you’re perusing the newest movie stream offerings. And if you decide you’d prefer something less blood-spewing and misogynistic you could choose, oh, just about anything other than Kate.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.