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Tribeca Film Review: ‘Catch the Fair One’ is a Propulsive and Meaningful Thriller

There’s more than meets the eye in Josef Kubota Wladyka’s gripping new thriller Catch the Fair One. Set around the world of competitive women’s boxing, its unpredictable storyline digs deeper to investigate the harsh reality of sex trafficking. As it uncovers the ugly underbelly of this horrifying world, this cinematic gut-punch is suitably unsettling.

Catch the Fair One is the story of Kaylee (played by Kali Reis), a former champion boxer struggling to make ends meet. Now working in a diner and living in a shelter, her glory days are behind her. But while she may not be physically ready to return to the boxing ring, Kaylee is preparing for biggest fight for her life. Upon a tip from a secret source, she gets information that may help her find her missing younger sister. A photo suggests that she was captured into a dangerous sex trafficking operation. But despite the threat, Kaylee will stop at nothing as she embarks on a treacherous crusade.

From Jason Statham, to Gina Carano, to the Rock, some of the most popular action stars were previously known for their sporting prowess. In her acting debut, Kali Reis – a professional boxer – could join their ranks with an impressive performance that makes an impact for both its visceral physicality and its emotional depth. As Catch the Fair One gets increasingly violent Reis conveys her inner conflict, wrestling with the morality of the choices she is forced to make. Armed with little more than a razor blade and her determination, there’s a fragility and vulnerability to her tough exterior. Every step of the way, she anchors the film with her thoughtful performance and adds layers to the plot’s more lurid instincts.

Indeed, Catch the Fair One captures the brutal, messy nature of revenge. But amid the edge-of-your seat thrills, Wladyka also asks bigger questions about the visibility – or more appropriately, the invisibility – of Native Americans in society. When one character scoffs that he doesn’t remember the names of the girls, it is a painful reminder that the exploitation of Native Americans and other women of color is often destined to be forgotten as mere statistics.

At once a propulsive thriller, a brooding character study and a poignant social drama, Catch the Fair One is a notable showcase for Josef Kubota Wladyka’s directing skills and Kali Reis’ movie star potential. It entertains and provokes with meaningful intent. You’ll surely be thinking about its real world implications after the credits roll.

SCORE: ★

Shane Slater is a passionate cinephile whose love for cinema led him to creating his blog Film Actually in 2009. Since then, he has written for AwardsCircuit.com, ThatShelf.com and The Spool. Based in Kingston, Jamaica, he relishes the film festival experience, having covered TIFF, NYFF and Sundance among others. He is a proud member of the African-American Film Critics Association.

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Written by Shane Slater

Shane Slater is a passionate cinephile whose love for cinema led him to creating his blog Film Actually in 2009. Since then, he has written for AwardsCircuit.com, ThatShelf.com and The Spool. Based in Kingston, Jamaica, he relishes the film festival experience, having covered TIFF, NYFF and Sundance among others. He is a proud member of the African-American Film Critics Association.

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