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‘Kill’ Review: Train-Set Indian Actioner Alternately Entertains and Exhausts

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Aspiring emergency room doctors may want to check out Kill, a film that truly lives up to its name.

Depicting the gory mayhem that results when dozens of dacoits, or armed bandits, take over a moving train, Nikhil Nagesh Bhat’s Hindi-language action film could serve as a medical school primer on the effects of stab wounds and bludgeoning on the human body. The director and action coordinators deserve a lot of praise, but it’s the makeup and prosthetics designers that should be singled out for their contributions, which will have squeamish audience members closing their eyes. The sound designers, who provided the nasty aural accompaniment to the gore, come in a close second.

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Kill

The Bottom Line Proves there can be too much of a good thing.

Release date: July 5
Cast: Lakshya, Raghav Juyal, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish G Vidyarthi, Abhishek Chauhan
Harsh Chhaya, Adrija Sinha
Director-screenwriter: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat
Rated R, 1 hour 45 minutes

As with most films of this type, the set-up is simple and quick. Army commando Amrit (Lakshya) and his best friend and fellow soldier Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan) board an overnight train to New Delhi in the hope of preventing the arranged marriage of Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), whose wealthy businessman father (Harsh Chhaya) considers Amrit too low in class to be a suitable husband for his daughter.

It isn’t long after Amrit proposes to a surprised Tulika, who’s on the train along with her entire family, that the dacoits make their presence known and begin robbing the passengers. Having cut off all communication including cell phone service, they plan to quickly fulfill their criminal mission and get off the train before the next stop.

But much like the gang led by Alan Rickman in Die Hard, they didn’t foresee the presence of the highly trained fighters Amrit and Viresh, who quickly swoop into action. (Indeed, the single-named Lakshya is introduced via the sort of dramatic close-up that used to be afforded the likes of Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone).

What ensues is a non-stop series of brutally violent confrontations, in which dazzling martial arts moves are accompanied by a wide variety of weapons including knives, machetes and, in one particularly gruesome episode, a fire extinguisher that bludgeons a man’s face into something resembling a cherry pie left out in the sun. Let’s just say that what happens on the train makes the zombie-ridden Train to Busan look like a Disneyland ride.   

But it isn’t until the chief bad guy commits a particularly heinous and, for Amrit, very personal act of brutality that he truly goes to town on the robbers, who strangely all seem related to one another. This occurs roughly 45 minutes into the film, and it’s only then that the title is emblazoned on the screen, despite the fact that plenty of killing has already gone on. That bad guy, Fani (a charismatic Raghav Juyal, whose extensive experience as a dancer serves him well here considering the rigorous physical paces), takes particular relish in his brutality, to an almost comical degree. “Look, happy days are here again!” he announces at one point, sounding like he’s seen too many old American movies.

The fight scenes are extremely well choreographed, filmed and edited, but they’re so relentless in their non-stop pacing that the viewing experience becomes numbing. The John Wick movies are similar in their extensive piling on, but at least they have the sense to stop once in a while for quieter moments in which Keanu Reeves does some picturesque brooding. (Not surprisingly, Kill has already been announced for an English-language remake from the producers of that franchise.)

Another problem is that the two heroes endure enough stab wounds and other forms of vicious assault on their bodies to kill a dozen men, but somehow continue to fight on as if they were Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots. Of course, it’s highly unlikely that the bloodthirsty target audience will care about such minor points.

Full credits

Production: Dharma Productions, Sikhya
Distributors: Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions
Cast: Lakshya, Raghav Juyal, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish G Vidyarthi, Abhishek Chauhan
Harsh Chhaya, Adrija Sinha
Director-screenwriter: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat
Producers: Hiroo Yash Johar, Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta, Guneet Monga Kapoor, Achin Jain
Director of photography: Rafey Mahmmod
Production designer: Mayur Sharma
Editor: Shivkumar V. Panicker
Costume designer: Rohit Chaturvedi
Composer: Ketan Sodha
Casting: Casting Bay
Rated R, 1 hour 45 minutes

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