Catch the Fair One (Crime, Thriller) (2021)
Director: Josef Kubota Wladyka
Writer: Josef Kubota Wladyka, Kali Reis
Stars: Kali Reis, Daniel Henshall, Michael Drayer, Kevin Dunn
Former championship boxer and recovering drug addict Kaylee follows a lead towards finding her long-lost sister and invades a human-trafficking ring.
Having made its rounds at film festivals throughout 2021, ‘’Catch the Fair One’’ is the writing and acting debut of real-life ex-boxer Kali Reis. Directing the feature is Josef Kubota Wladyka, who has experience in crime-based projects due to his work in ‘’Narcos’’ and its spin-off ‘’Narcos: Mexico’’. The film has been produced by The Population, Protozoa Pictures and Firstgen Content while being distributed by IFC Films.
Setting itself up with Reis’ Kaylee preparing for a match turns into a nightmare lasting the remainder of the film. The narrative is quite reminiscent of ‘’Taken’’ yet in this case; the sister is abducted. To make it worse, everyone except for Kaylee has given up believing she’s still alive. Introductory shots show the director’s eye for cinematography using an effectively bleak and haunting tone, several times using distant views and shadows to let the surroundings of Buffalo, New York, really seep in.
While certainly impressed, ‘’Catch the Fair One’’ seemed to struggle with some symptoms often seen in independent crime thrillers. Reis and Wladyka attempt to use the initial scenes to give Kaylee, her sister Weeta and mother Jaya some backstory driving home the motivations for Kaylee; however, early on, despite good acting, I couldn’t connect to Kaylee; it seems to drone on too much. While it is a relatively short film running less than an hour and a half, It could’ve used more time truly connecting the viewer to Reis’ Kaylee. The script remains pretty straightforward and feels like it had the opportunity to capture more of the desperate tones that seem so apparent in the cinematography but didn’t quite.
Despite my criticisms, it’s a remarkable feat to deliver such a film in your first attempt at writing and acting. Important to Kali Reis’ performance was the fact she kept her character close to her own identity, a boxer with mixed Native heritage. While I’d be interested to see future acting performances less directly identifiable to her as a person, it worked in this case. If thoroughly lacking something, it’d be the emotional impact some ‘’Taken’’ scenes had. It gives it a fair try and delivers a different but engaging and positively dreary encounter. In the end, we once more see Kaylee wrapping up her fists, preparing for a fight, bringing the film full circle.
Catch this film wherever you can see it.