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Netflix’s ‘Kate’ is Different Than Most Female Led Action Movies

Mary Elizabeth Winstead explains that her titular character is scary and angry and has nothing left to lose.
Kate Movie Netflix Mary Elizabeth Winstead
By  · Published on August 10th, 2021

Entering the Discourse is a thrice-weekly column where we dig into who is saying what about new releases and upcoming projects. Today, we look at the trailer for the movie Kate, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s experience playing the title character, and why director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan calls the Netflix Original a love letter to Japan.

In the trailer for the Netflix Original movie Kate, Mary Elizabeth Winstead proves that she is the next big female action star. The actress plays the titular character, an assassin who after botching a hit in Tokyo, is poisoned by the yakuza. With only 24 hours left to live, Kate decides to exact her revenge on those who wronged her. 

Watch the Kate trailer here:

Kate is Not Your Average Female Action Movie

During an interview on Rolling Stone’s Twitch stream, Winstead discussed what it was like playing Kate in the movie and what makes her different from other female action characters:

“I never felt like she was badass for the sake of it. She’s quite scary in the movie in large part because she’s highly skilled and highly trained but also she has nothing to lose.”

That rage, and to have the opportunity to experience those emotions as a performer, attracted Winstead to the movie Kate. She added:

“There’s something I’m drawn to the idea of a really angry woman… and she’s as extreme as you can go with where she is in the film. That was fun for me to be able to connect with that emotionally and have that connect to the physicality. Every punch and every stab is just so full of rage.”

The actress performs all of those punches and stabs herself. Winstead is no stranger to stunt work and fight choreography. She previously did all her own stunts as Huntress in the DC movie Birds of Prey. And she felt comfortable going back to the action world for Kate.

It helped that she got Jonathan Eusebio and some of the stunt team from Birds of Prey. They were already familiar with one another and could more quickly get to the fight choreography needed for Kate.

Winstead also said Kate was a step above anything she’d done before in a movie. She got to “step into something that was really kicking it up a notch…in a huge way, in almost every way.”

She further explained:

“The character [of Kate] and the depths she goes through even emotionally was a new level for me.”

“A Love Letter to Japan”

Kate isn’t just about Winstead’s performance in the movie: it’s also about the country of Japan. In an interview with Rolling Stone, director Cedric Nicolas-Troyan calls the movie a “love letter” to the country through not only the setting but through his use of Japanese cultural references.

These, he says, include: 

“The Lawson convenience stores, the vending machines, the pop culture (with the classic ‘Galactic Wars‘ TV show largely inspired by ‘Star Wars‘), the anime manga culture (with ‘Tokyo Ghoul‘) and the music.”

Just in the trailer, you can see that homage to well-known Japanese cultural objects. Such as Winstead’s Totoro shirt and a brief glimpse of the Japanese all-female heavy metal band Band-Maid. 

The inclusion of the latter was a strategic choice for Nicolas-Troyan. He says:

“All the needle drops in the film are there to celebrate Japanese female artists of all genres. Metal, pop, ballad, hip-hop, and just plain weird.” 

Kate also stars Miku Martineau, Tadanobu Asano, Miyavi, Michiel Huisman, Jun Kunimura, and Woody Harrelson, and the movie arrives on Netflix and in select theaters on September 10th.

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Mary Beth McAndrews thinks found footage is good and will fight you if you say otherwise. When she's not writing, she's searching for Mothman with her two cats. Follow her on Twitter @mbmcandrews. (She/Her)