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  Catch the Fair One I Don't Like What Happened To My Sister
Year: 2021
Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Stars: Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu, Michael Drayer, Lisa Emery, Kimberly Guerrero, Kevin Dunn, Shelly Vincent, Mainaku Borrero, Isabelle Chester, Wesley Leung, Sam Seward, Jordan Smith, Emmett Printup, Gerald Webb, Jonathan Wilde
Genre: Drama, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Kaylee, known informally as KO (Kali Reis), is a boxer whose career has been sent off the rails when she was traumatised by her sister's kidnapping. This has become an all-consuming obsession to find out where she went and if she can get her back, but from what she has been investigating, it is obvious the girl was taken by human traffickers and sold into sex slavery. She knows it will be a near-insurmountable task to get back to her, but Kaylee is not going to allow the odds to beat her in this quest, so is throwing all her energies into discovering what happened to the girl: one fight she cannot lose.

Catch the Fair One sounds like any number of straight to streaming or DVD action flicks from the synopsis, we had a woman who makes her living through violence turning that aggression to the uses of seeking revenge and justice. Aside from the gender of the lead character, it could be the plot of about a thousand other martial arts or gunplay efforts, possibly on a fairly big budget but possibly not, yet in this script co-written by star Reis there was more a move towards the dramatic potential for such a yarn. It started out very moody and low key, and it never really lifted that dour mood either, preferring grit.

If anything, there was a tone of social realism about the film, yes that was undercut by the violence of the later scenes, but they did their best to keep things as authentic as possible as it struck you they were deliberately imparting a gravely serious message. The crime of human trafficking is a very pressing one, especially in disadvantaged communities where young girls (and indeed young boys) become commodities to be traded as sex slaves, with the hope of their rescue a slim one thanks to widespread indifference and police incompetence. Plus the men who run these slave rings can be very well-connected and protected.

Therefore there was a sense of wish-fulfilment about Kaylee's crusade, which had to stay on just the right side of believable without tipping over into cartoonish sequences of her breaking heads in elaborate action set-ups. Indeed, it seemed director Josef Kubota Wladyka was consciously resisting turning this into an action movie at all, there were certainly parts where the heroine runs about, uses a gun and her fists to get her way, and generally shows off the prowess that Reis, as a real-life women's boxing champion, would have no problem going all Cynthia Rothrock. But at every turn there was that nagging at the audience's conscience, making us aware this had been researched and was accurate to a degree.

What may not be accurate is Kaylee's personal, undercover operation which eschews the help of any law enforcement agencies as she becomes a lone wolf, a fantasy perhaps, but as she is going through the same suffering that a genuine victim would, all the better to reach the genuine villains (who are each and every one a white male). Now we understand the degradation the slaves endure thanks to Kaylee's experiences, it does appeal to a primal part of the brain to see her begin to exact her revenge, executing her aggressors since there's little more pleasing in a thriller, action or otherwise, to see the protagonist underestimated by the bad guys at their great cost. Casual (or apparently casual) details establish these men as serial abusers of women, treating them like property to do as they wish, therefore it is compelling to see one of those women standing up to them in the most uncompromising manner. It does take too long to get up to speed for such a short movie, but for a thriller with a social conscience it made its impression. Music by Nathan Halpern.

[On digital platforms 4th April 2022.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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