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Even with Samuel Jackson, 'Kite' fails to take off

 Even with Samuel Jackson, 'Kite' fails to take off
India Eisley in the movie "Kite." (Anchor Bay Films)

The dippy dystopian action film "Kite" isn't bad because Samuel L. Jackson is in it, but the ubiquitous star's umpteenth phoned-in badass is certainly an indication of how inconsequential the whole enterprise is.

Adapted from a Japanese anime, the film makes available for your fetishistic approval a baby-faced, dewy-eyed teenager named Sawa (India Eisley) with a drug addiction, dead parents, one friend (Jackson, as her cop dad's ex-partner) and a vengeful thirst for slaughtering the henchmen of a child-slavery cartel run by a figure called the Emir.

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Director Ralph Ziman struggles mightily to weave hot-girl assassin shtick, trendy exploitation style and future-shock grimness: The default setting seems to be whatever you've seen in a hundred other movies (and heard — the electronic score is pure digital Muzak). Ziman also seems oblivious that when there's a third of the movie left after the villain is eradicated, it's not hard to figure out what else the story has up its sleeve.

Then there's the queasy sell job "Kite" offers of female warrior empowerment while its skimpily dressed star rarely looks older than 14 — that is, when she's not looking 13.

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"Kite."

MPAA rating: R for strong violence, grisly images, drug and sexual content.

Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes.

Playing: At Los Feliz 3, Los Angeles.

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