Review by Dan Skip Allen
Every once in a while, you watch a movie that surprises you in ways you didn't think any film could. So many films are cookie-cutter versions of other films, whether it be the script or genre or something else entirely. You rarely find a film that is different from anything you've seen before. Catch the Fair One is one of those films. And it's a pleasant surprise!
Kaylee (Kali Reis) is a Native American boxer. She works for a living at a diner. When her sister goes missing, she embarks on a mission to find out what happened to her and to bring her back home. She infiltrates a corrupt organization of prostitution and puts her own life on the line to rescue her younger sister. The deeper she goes, the harder answers are to come by, but she's a tough woman and knows how to take care of herself. Her boxing skills come in handy.
The film has a very good cast of relative unknowns led by Reis and Kevin Dunn, a very prolific character actor, known for Transformers, Gridiron Gang, and Dave. He plays a man who is in charge of an illegal smuggling operation. Reis infiltrates his organization, but she's over her head. This film is not a typical thriller. It has some interesting story beats that will keep anyone guessing until the end.
Reis isn't known as an actor. Her real-life career as a boxing champion comes in handy as the character she plays in the film. Her fighting skills are first-rate and that allows her to do her own stunt scenes and fighting. That's a very good skill set as far as an actress goes. Not very many have a set of skills like Reis. Her acting skills could use a little work, though.
The director Josef Kubota Wladyka is primarily experienced as a television and streaming director. This is his second feature after Dirty Hands in 2014. He knows his way around a story and the beats he has to hit as a director and storyteller. This film has those beats that need to be met and when they are, the film succeeds very much. The story goes in unfamiliar directions and that's a good thing.
Catch the Fair One originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival back in 2021. IFC bought it and it's getting a wide release next week. As a little indie film, it succeeds on many levels. The breakout performance by Reis anchors a stellar cast including Kevin Dunn as a nogoodnik up to his neck in illegal activity. Josef Kubota Wladyka does a stellar job in his sophomore outing. The atmosphere and setting of the film make for an intriguing story.
Catch the Fair One hits theaters and VOD on February 10.