The fantasy of India’s Bollywood meets the fantasy of the Las Vegas Underground.
Kites / Kites: The Remix
Image Entertainment releases a Bluray of a film by Reliance Big Pictures, starring Hrithik Roshan, Barbara Mori, with supporting roles played by Nicholas Brown, Yuri Suri, Kabir Bedi, and Kangana Ranaut. The film was directed by Anurag Basu, with lyrics by Narir Faraz and Asif Ali Beg, and choreographed by Sandip Soparrkar.
The Remix was produced/supervised ‘for international audiences’ by Brett Ratner.
Presented in 2.35:1 Cinemascope, encoded into the 16x9 frame, the disc includes two versions: the original “Bollywood” version, and the “international” version that cuts most of the song and dance scenes. Among other things. Kites is approximately 123 minutes long; Kites: The Remix is approximately 92 minutes long. Each version includes a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, and each version includes dialog in Hindi, English, and Spanish. The Remix has more English, including some scenes that are dubbed into English. Each version includes an assortment of subtitles for the various foreign language dialog. Kites includes optional English subtitles for the Hindi.
On starting the disc, it begins with three skippable trailers for The Way Back, Gun, and Every Day. These look to be standard definition. This is followed by the FBI slate, and then an Image Entertainment slate. The simple and fast-acting menu then appears, with options for the original or the Remix versions, and subtitles on the original.
The single Bluray disc is packaged in a typical single-disc case, with no inserts at all. The feature is not rated by the MPAA, but most other countries show ratings between 13 and 15, primarily for violence. The disc has a suggested retail price of US$29.97, and was released in North America on February 15, 2011.
Please note that this review is based off of a full viewing of Kites: The Remix, and extended samples of Kites.
The Feature — •••½
There are two versions of the same film. Even within imdb.com, there is conflict as to if scenes were re-shot, dubbed, or just edited. After photography, however, the two different films took radically different paths for their different markets, with different soundtracks, editing, and, of course, run-time. The one major dance sequence has been sliced out of the Remix, and most of the songs have been trimmed out. Those and a few other changes take the Remix down by forty or so minutes.
Kites has a non-linear story line, much of it told in the form of flashback; including some flashbacks that run thirty minutes or so at a clip. In short, Jay (H. Roshan) is a guy trying to make a living in Las Vegas without actually doing any work — apart from running a dance studio, which, from what I’ve seen, is not a great way to make a lot of money, but is also a whole lot of work. One of his many side-schemes is green-card weddings for women wanting to come to America. As such, he had — or has — eleven wives. At the studio, as chance would have it, one of his rising pupils, Gina (Ranaut,) falls in love with Jay. Her father owns one of the big resort/casinos in Las Vegas, and soon, Jay is part of “the family.” And then Tony (Brown) arrives with his wife-to-be, Natasha (Mori,) who Jay had once known as Linda (wife #11) — to whom he was still, technically, married to. The night before Natasha was to marry Tony, Jay suggests that they should divorce. Except divorce is not in the cards, and things come to a head. The fleeing lovers are then pursued by Tony and company, across three states and two countries.
The Picture — ••••½
The two different films are two different films, and not just seamless branching. Even the color-grading of the same shots is different between the two different versions. The pictures are visually stunning. The use of time, focus, texture, light, and color seems to harken back to an older time when Hollywood might use a few megawatts of power to light a scene that was allegedly lit with a single candle.
The film went through a digital-intermediary stage, and has had some extensive image processing. While most of the time the effects, even if not subtle, are effective. One area that this fails is when the DI process either created or supplemented a large flashing red light, and reveals the limitations of the color-math. The image is also very clean, and given the speed of the negative stock used, I would have expected more grain. However, the lack of grain does not seem to be particularly unnatural in look. The only other artifacts I saw was in a few scenes, it almost looked like there may have been a very soft, out-of-focus grid pattern somewhere; much larger than individual pixels, but not behaving like macroblocking.
On the other hand, apart from one or two scenes, I would have no problems with using the visuals as demonstration material. Heck; Las Vegas at night? Car chases? Escapes?
The Sound — ••••
To bang the same old drum; the two soundtracks are quite different. While both are 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, the Hindi version is quite a bit louder, with a fuller subwoofer track, and a much more aggressive surround track. Dialog is mostly clear — at least the English bits; I can not judge the Hindi bits! While the Kites track may be more involving, louder, and more spacious, this does not mean that there is anything wrong with the Remix soundtrack. Just ‘different.’
In either case, expect your whole system, from subwoofer to surrounds, to get a fairly extensive workout.
Does Kites: The Remix count as an extra? There are no other extras.
In The End — ••••
Kites is a grand, splashy, and violent fantasy. The production feels big and grand. And for a relatively small cast spectacle, it is spectacular. This disc is an excellent presentation of these two films. While I can not say if a person would like a Bollywood film, this is probably one of two films I would recommend for someone interested in exploring this ‘genre’ of film (the other being the 2004 Bride & Prejudice, which is much less violent, and more romantic.)