‘Kate’ actress responds to ‘Asian killing spree’ criticism, says her intention was to pay ‘homage to Japan’

Kate star calls movie an homage to Japan

Actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead has responded to the criticisms her latest film “Kate” has been receiving online.

Immediate backlash: As soon as the trailer for the Netflix film emerged last month, it received heavy criticism for its premise involving a white woman going on an “Asian killing spree” in Japan, NextShark previously reported. 

  • In the film, Winstead plays the titular character Kate, a “ruthless criminal operative” who is poisoned by the yakuza and has less than 24 hours to seek revenge.
  • One Twitter user summarized the plot as “one white woman killing a whole lot of Asian people.”
  • Another user pointed out how insensitive the premise was amid the recent “rise of attacks against” the Asian community.

An ‘homage’ to Japan: In an interview with 8Days, Winstead said the movie’s creative team did not intend to anger the Asian community when “Kate” started development in 2019. She added that their intention was to pay homage to Japan and its culture. 

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  • Winstead expressed hopes that critics would watch the movie first before passing judgment on its merits. 
  • “When people see it, I hope that they realize that it’s a thoughtful film,” she was quoted as saying. “It’s nothing exploitative about it in any way. It’s very emotional. There’s a lot of depth and humanity and dignity in the film even though there is also a lot of violence.”
  • Winstead said portraying her character Kate “was something that felt more challenging than anything I have done before on so many levels, physically as well as emotionally.”

Japan reacts: When the film was released on Sept. 10, more viewers weighed in on “Kate,” including the Japanese audience who found a lot more to dislike from the movie, reported Kotaku.  

  • Cinema Drake, which gave the movie a 3/10 rating, noticed its resemblance to Quentin Tarantino’s “Kill Bill” from 2003, pointing out that “Kate” displayed “the lack of progression in the depiction [of Japan] over the past 18 years. This is truly a Japanese stereotype extravaganza as thought up by a foreigner.’
  • Average viewers (non-critics) from Eiga.com found the same flaw in the film. “Looking at this, you get the feeling that Japan hasn’t changed in the past twenty years,” one user wrote. Another viewer asked, “When will Japan’s image be updated? The image of projecting an animation on the entire face of a building has never been updated since the era of Japan-as-cyberpunk (for example, ‘Blade Runner’).”
  • Users on site Filmarks also criticized the film’s use of too much neon in Japan, with one pointing out how the “flashy neon image of Japan hasn’t changed since ‘Blade Runner.’” Another user asked, “‘Japan has that much neon? It’s a mystery why everyone [in Kate] can speak English.”
  • A reviewer on Kyou mo Eiga desu ka? made a similar observation: “‘Inevitably, when Japan appears in Hollywood movies, it quickly becomes cyberpunk. It’s as though a bit of ‘Blade Runner’ has been added to reality, and this [type of movie] is already on the way to becoming a genre called Wrong About Japan.”
  • CineMag, which gave “Kate” an 81% rating, found it a relief that some Japanese characters were portrayed as “normal Japanese yakuza,” compared to Japanese actors in other foreign movies who “often overact and speak in unnatural Japanese.” 

Featured Image via Netflix

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