The first Bollywood film to crack the U.S. top 10 box-office chart, the multilingual import by director Anurag Basu comes packaged in two versions on Blu-ray: its original, native version, and the “Remix” version that “Rush Hour” franchise director Brett Ratner re-edited to make it more accessible to American audiences. (Who knows who’s responsible for the cover’s misleading “Mission: Impossible”-style lettering?)
He’s cut the dance scenes and amped up the action, but the movie still suffers from schizophrenia. While at its heart a romance, it swerves to, from and through elements of the comedy, crime, adventure and thriller genres with reckless abandon. The result is something like watching a handful of tonally different works that just happen to share the same characters.
Starring as the fated but doomed lovers of “Kites” are Hrithik Roshan and Bárbara Mori as Jay and Natasha, respectively. He’s married nearly a dozen women strictly in “Green Card” situations in the heart of Sin City, but his heart belongs at first sight to Natasha, who’s — goshdarnit — already engaged to his brother-in-law. True love knows no boundaries, so they run off together, leaving many on their tail and a string of criminal acts in their wake.
Mori is ridiculously gorgeous; Roshan looks like India’s Bradley Cooper. “Kites” plucks them both into dangerous situations, from car chases with the fuzz to jumping from a hot air balloon.
For my tastes, Ratner actually improves the film, not only by removing roughly half an hour from a too-long running time, but punching up the colors to match every bulb of Las Vegas’ neon-lit veneer. It hasn’t a brain in its well-toned bod, but your eyes may not care.
Thumbs down, however, for failing to put scene selections on the Blu-ray; if you have to take a break like I did and revisit the movie later, you’re in for a lot of fast-forwarding. —Rod Lott