Fans of the Atomic Blonde formula will want to catch Kate

Kate 'spoils market' for assassins with her one-day attempt to bring down a Yakuza boss.

by Justin Choo

If Tinseltown is to be believed you could throw a coin into the crowd and you’d hit an assassin who’s on a redemption arc seeking revenge. So what’s the deal with Kate?

Mary Elizabeth Windstet, who’s growing into the role of an action femme fatale (Huntress, Birds of Prey), should fit in comfortably as the titular character while Woody Harrelson plays her handler Varick. The premise is as straightforward as it gets: an assassin kills someone whose brother, Kijima (Jun Kunimura), happens to be the head of a Yakuza clan. Kijima understandably wants revenge and succeeds in poisoning her.

For every action, there is an equally gratuitous overreaction, so the gimmick here is that Kate has 24 hours to exact her revenge before she succumbs to the poison. And as she stalks the streets of Tokyo, she finds an unexpected ally in the form of Ani (Miku Martineau) – a teenage girl whose father was taken out by Kate herself.

It’s funny that nobody would bat an eyelid if this was a manga (and written by a Japanese), but given how views on racial diversity and cultural appropriation are these days, the whole Kill Bill schtick where a white person is taking out Asians is a recipe for social media provocation. But I don’t think you need to go to film school to figure out that Kate is to Atomic Blonde what Tokyo Drift is to Fast & Furious. It’s just the wallpaper.

And that’s partly down to the fact that David Leitch (who directed Atomic Blonde and co-produced John Wick) and Kelly McCormick (co-producer, Atomic Blonde) are co-producers for this movie.

But since we’re mainly here for the swagger rather than the plot, then all you need to know is that two J-rock icons will make cameos: Band-Maid will appear as themselves while Miyavi will play Jojima, one of the henchmen who will stand in Kate’s way. That alone would be reason enough for the J-rock crowd to catch this one.

Kate will stream on Netflix from 10 September 2021.