Written and directed by Josef Kubota Wladyka, a former champion boxer embarks on the fight of her life when she goes in search of her missing sister. Starring: Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Tiffany Chu, Michael Drayer, Kimberly Guerrero, Lisa Emery, Kevin Dunn, Isabelle Chester and Sam Seward.
A story of former boxers getting drawn into the world of crime may be a familiar one but Catch the Fair One still has plenty to add. It delves into the police’s apathy towards Native American disappearances and the rise of human trafficking. Meaning that it creates a highly relevant story with a dark thriller edge and a strong tension. One of the huge missteps it avoids, that your average Statham or Neeson flick would fall into, is losing its grip on reality, it doesn’t try to dive so deep down the rabbit hole, that it becomes too far removed from the everyday. It has a good sense of grit, it’s not overly violent or bloody but it’s keenly tuned into the dangerous consequences of Kaylee’s (Kali Reis) choices. One of the best things about the writing is that it isn’t going for your typical Hollywood progression, it sees the reality behind vigilantism and that it can only get you so far.
An element that undoubtedly helps to create that tension is the score (by Nathan Halpern), it has a very classic thriller tone. It’s light-handed and lingers on the suspenseful moments with a skilful touch. The direction and cinematography capture the darkness to the story but also manage to get in a great use of colour. The aesthetic feels reminiscent of Nia DaCosta’s work on Little Woods, it doesn’t try to escape the everyday but it also brings a depth and texture.
Turning to acting from another profession is no easy task and while she may be playing a boxer, this role asks a hell of a lot more of Kali Reis and she gives a superb performance. It’s intense, relatable, dedicated and emotional yet understated, she’s utterly convincing from start to finish and hopefully this is the beginning of another career for her. She steals the show entirely but it’s also delightful to see a brief appearance from Kevin Dunn, as well as a supporting performance from fellow fighter Shelly Vincent. Daniel Henshall is perfectly sadistic and Tiffany Chu gives a very intriguing portrayal, it may be relatively brief but there’s an interesting complexity going on beneath the surface.
Catch the Fair One is gripping, relevant and tense. It’s exactly what you hoped to get from Wild Indian, a crime thriller that integrates issues which disproportionately affect the Native American community, but where they fell on cliché, Josef Kubota Wladyka creates something original. Kali Reis gives a brilliant debut performance which is compelling to watch from start to finish. It’s well shot, paced, written and keeps a crucially firm grip on reality which grounds the film wonderfully.