BEING a superhero is a dangerous business in Matthew Vaughn’s brutal coming-of-age tale, based on the comic written by Mark Millar and John S Romita Jr.

Adapted for the screen by Vaughn and Jane Goldman, Kick-Ass is a thrilling, hilarious and at times heartbreaking portrait of teen angst that will undoubtedly raise eyebrows for its heady combination of foul- mouthed, sword-wielding children and graphic violence.

Yet, as recent headlines have brought home with chilling clarity, too many of our youngsters roam the streets with concealed weapons.

Childhood innocence died a long time ago.

Kick-Ass taps into modern day lawlessness and senseless brutality by pitting one regular teenager, without a single superpower to his cumbersome name, against real life bad guys capable of killing him with a single blow to the head.

“With no power, comes no responsibility,” he rues, lamenting our unwillingness to rush to another person’s aid.

Turning a blind eye to crime is so much easier than taking a stand.

Geeky teenager Dave Lizewski (Aaron Johnson) lives with his father (Garrett M Brown) in New York, where he attends high school and admires unattainable classmate Katie Deauxma (Lyndsy Fonseca) from afar.

Kick-Ass is an incendiary, fast- paced jaunt though the Big Apple in the company of two motherless youngsters, who discover their strength behind the masks of their alter egos.

Johnson sports an inflexion-perfect American accent as the eponymous do-gooder and Cage delivers his first decent performance for years but it’s pint-sized Moretz who scene-steals from her first blood-spattered skirmish.

Action sequences are directed at a breathless pace by Vaughn – notably a night vision shoot-out and the storming of D’Amico’s rooftop headquarters – but the visceral thrills never come at the expense of our emotional connection to the characters.

They kick ass and we silently cheer them, with clenched fists, from the aisles.