Film, Hindi, India, Review


Following its premiere on the International Film Festival circuit last year onwards and finally releasing now theatrically, Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s bone-crunching action movie, Kill, has been marketed as the goriest action film to come out of this country. For once, the marketing is in sync with the material presented on screen but what it doesn’t tell you is that Kill is also easily one of the most impressive movies made last year. Not just that, the film also foregoes all the typical blending of disparate genre elements for the most part, choosing instead, to hone in, perfect, and perceptively comment on the action genre as a whole.

Kill starts starts innocuously enough with NSG commando, Amrit Rathod (Lakshya), finding out his girlfriend, Tulika (Taniya Maniktala), is engaged to someone else against her will. To stop the arranged marriage from becoming official, he boards a New Delhi-bound train with his friend and fellow commando, Viresh Chatwal (Abhishek Chauhan). However, his plan gets derailed when a gang of knife-wielding thieves led by Beni (Ashish Vidyarthi) and his ruthless son, Fani (Raghav Juyal), begin terrorizing innocent passengers on the train. They ultimately target Baldeo Singh Thakur (Harsh Chhaya), who is not just a major businessman but also the father of Tulika…

Initially as both Amrit and Viresh take on the thieves , one can sense that the director through his storytelling is signalling to the audience that the two of them are holding themselves back. In contrast, Fani has no compunctions, and thus the thieves following his command take on the commandos with no mercy, easily overpowering them. Until the film in its interval block delivers a twist that ratchets up the intensity. That said, the twist is highly manipulative, further enhanced by the unsubtle and in-your-face use of slow motion. But yet, it does the job because post-interval when the action choreography becomes unhinged, Amrit begins to attack and kill the thieves mercilessly. It is here that the blood and gore becomes apparent; the choreography and the cinematography (Rafey Mahmood) get slicker, the editing (Shivkumar V Panicker) sharper and the violence terrifying.

What makes Kill stand out is its taking into account the perspectives of the group of thieves as well as those of the passengers when Amrit starts going on a killing spree. The film focuses on showing the action set-piece in all their glory and then immediately cutting back to reaction shots from the rest of the populace within the train even as they look in horror at the carnage being wrought. We learn of the fear and dread spreading among the thieves as they realize they have awoken a sleeping monster.

Through these changes in perspectives, Kill also becomes a commentary on violence and on the audience’s propensity for enjoying these bouts of violence. It’s a fascinating push and pull that the film plays with, executing its balancing act quite well. With the second act focusing more on the antagonists, it allows for semblances of character development to unfold thereby giving these characters distinct personalities. As Fani, Raghav Juyal is terrifying in his flamboyance and capriciousness. Beni (Ashish Vidyarthi) is the reliable leader of the bandits and works as the conscience for the group. Lakshya as Amrit is earnest as the man seeking to reunite with his love while simultaneously being physically imposing and convincing as the killing machine whose berserker rage fuelled carnage makes Fani remark that Amrit is a monster, not a protector.

The star of this film ultimately is the high-octane action sequences superbly designed and executed by Se-yeong Oh and Parvez Sheikh. The kills are highly inventive, utilizing objects like curtains, fire extinguishers, cisterns, and even a zippo lighter fluid. The fighting styles, too, are markedly different, keeping in mind the characterizations. For Amrit, his movements are not elaborate but rather swift, harsh, and yet precise. For Fani, his knife-wielding skills make him unpredictable, prone to swinging and delivering lethal blows at specific points. Even as Amrit becomes more and more inventive in delivering the killing blows, the action choreography also integrates the exhaustion of it all into the mix. Thus, when Amrit and Fani finally face off, the stakes have considerably risen due to exhaustion, cruelty, and the gallons of blood strewn all over the train.

The catharsis of watching a well-executed action sequence to only then remind you of the immediate aftermath of that brutality and the collateral damage is what makes Kill stand out as something far more than just a well-made action movie. It does have a few moments of big emotional callbacks through flashback sequences that feel unnecessary while the first half with some of its set-ups takes quite a bit of time to get going. However, when the action begins, it doesn’t let up, truly becoming not only catnip for fans of the genre but also one of the better films released this year.


Hindi, Action, Thriller, Color

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1 Comment

  1. Though I am yet to see KILL just wondering if the film would have been same without the Korean Action Director? For they are anyway known for Gore and violence.

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