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Brief Festival Film Review: Kai

Lee Sung-gang (이성강): Kai (카이, 2016, 96 mins)
Review by Robert Cottingham


Snow Queen Hattan casts a spell over the peaceful village where Kai lives, and covers everything in ice. The River Spirit who is the protector of the village gives the brave young Kai the only key to fighting off Hattan and asks him to save the village.

Kai poster If the above précis reminds you of a certain Disney film with a very irritating theme song and anthropomorphic snowmen, you could be forgiven. Luckily, the film avoids the worst excesses of Disney and is instead a thought-provoking children’s fantasy, as one might expect from the director that brought us the animations My Beautiful Girl, Mari (2002) and Yobi the Five Tailed Fox (2007)

Think the Chronicles of Narnia and you’re on the right lines. The witch here captures Kai’s sister and turns people into ice. This being a fairy tale, the witch is in fact the personification of winter. The illustrations are pastel shades of blues and greens and the backdrops are generally well detailed.

It probably won’t do well outside of Korea which is a shame. It’s not patronising to children and it will entertain any adults who watch it. There is a beautiful song at the end (much better than the dreadful ‘Let It Go’).

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