GFF Review: Catch The Fair One

DIRECTED BY

Josef Kubota Wladyka

STARRING

Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu, Michael Drayer, Lisa Emery, Kimberly Guerrero, Shelley Vincent and Kevin Dunn

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SYNOPSIS

A Native American boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister.

Catch The Fair One is written and directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka. The film focuses on Kaylee, a former Native American boxer who faces the fight of her life when she embarks on a search to find her missing sister, a search which leads her to embedding herself into a human trafficking ring as the only way to retrace her sister’s steps and lead her on a path to find her and the man responsible for the whole operation.

We’re introduced to Kaylee as she’s getting tape wrapped around the hands before gloves are put on, and proceeds to be warming up for a big fight. Though in the next sequence, she wakes up in bed at a shelter, with her mouth bleeding. She pulls out a razor from her mouth. Her life as a boxer is long behind her as she is working tables at a diner, but she’s preparing for a different kind of fight entirely. Her sister Weeta is missing and, with the help of her friend and coach Brick, she meets with a cop and his C.I to follow the lead that she could’ve been caught and placed through a human trafficking ring. With time running out since her initial disappearance, Kaylee believes that the best course of action is to be placed into the next ‘batch’ of girls and go through the process to find someone that can give her the answers she needs in order to find Weeta. It’s a drastic measure, but one in which Kaylee believes she must take and what transpires over the course of the film is a bleak, captivating drama from Josef Kubota Wladyka.

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While, for example, Liam Neeson’s Taken gave us a the ‘thrills’ within the revenge-thriller with a some similar plot beats, but Wladyka and Reis instead focus on keeping it grounded and raw, it gets right under your skin the deeper Kaylee gets into the human trafficking world, and we fear for her every step of the way as she’s not a one-army archetype, she’s completely in over her head, vulnerable and making a few mistakes along the way. There’s one particular scene in which the ‘batch’ of girls Kaylee arrives with, they are individually taken away by one of the traffickers and when Kaylee is eventually called, it makes for one of the most uncomfortable scenes to watch. I’m not overly familiar with Kali Reis’ boxing career, but in terms of an acting debut she definitely commands the screen playing the role of Kaylee, particularly in the moments when her character has to do violent acts in order to find some answers and it’s through her expressions that we know how uncomfortable she feels about carrying them but desperate times call for desperate measures. The use of locations also match the films bleak tone, with cinematographer Ross Giardina using wide shots of the wintery landscape to show how isolated Kaylee is.

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VERDICT

Catch The Fair One can make for uncomfortable viewing for some, but it’s a well constructed, yet bleak, drama about pain and trauma that is well directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka and a riveting lead performance by Kali Reis.

★★★