By Tess Hofmann | The Playlist February 5, 2013 at 5:46PM
Almost one month ago, the news hit that director David R. Ellis (“The Final Destination,” “Snakes On A Plane”) had been found dead in his Johannesburg hotel room where he was staying while working on “Kite,” a remake of the 1998 Japanese anime film that was set to star Samuel L. Jackson. Now, rest assured that while Ellis is no more, his project will live on.
South African director Ralph Ziman is set to take over at the helm. Jackson will stay on board, while India Eisley and Callan McAuliffe have also joined the cast. Ziman’s best-known directing credit is for 2008’s “Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema,” about crime in a post-apartheid black South African neighborhood. The film was generally well-reviewed and praised for its kinetic energy -- something Ziman will need to adapt the dystopian “Kite.”
The original anime sparked controversy for its graphic depictions of an orphaned girl turned sex slave and assassin. The remake will alternatively focus on a girl (Eisley) living in a failed state where the corrupt security force profits on the trafficking of young women. When her policeman father is killed, she vows to track down the murderer with the help of his ex-partner (Jackson). Either way, Ziman’s experience with flashy, seedy tales could serve him well. Eisley is known for appearing in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” but she also has some action experience under her belt thanks to a role in “Underworld: Awakening.” Callan McAuliffe has a few major appearances coming up including roles in “Underground: The Julian Assange Story” and “The Great Gatsby.”
Jackson said, “The zest and enthusiasm David Ellis had for this project led to my commitment to do it. The same commitment to David leads me to fulfill my obligation to see his dedication fulfilled.” Ziman now faces the challenge of turning this borderline pornographic cartoon into more commercially viable live-action romp, as we know Ellis would have expertly done. [Deadline]