violent action movie combines John Wick and Train to Busan

violent action movie combines John Wick and Train to Busan

Planting this here for future discussion. I saw this at TIFF last September, where it earned a rousing response and very positive reviews. Bar none, it’s India’s most violent action movie ever, and that’s by design. The film’s influences are many, and have been or will be pointed out – JOHN WICK, THE RAID, TRAIN TO BUSAN (minus the zombies), whatever – and those are likewise by design. The producers very much wanted a piece of the Midnight Madness action that has largely eluded Indian cinema over the years apart from maybe this film (which was unique, but not especially memorable).

TIFF page:

Much was made about KILL being the film debut of ripped tough-guy leading man Laksh Lalwani, but according to IMDb, he’s been in other stuff, so I’m guessing this is just some kind of ‘reinvention’ PR to introduce him as a bad-ass. The real wild card in the film is an actor named Raghav Juyal who plays the charismatic psycho villain. Apparently he’s better known for comic and musical roles, but I could see this putting him on the radar of Hollywood’s Big Franchise producers for supporting roles that rope in his home audience (not unlike certain Thai and Indonesian stars in recent years).

This was picked up by Lionsgate in October (after Beyond Fest, I think) and they’ve been sitting on it ever since, presumably strategically when one considers Dev Patel’s MONKEY MAN seems to be generating some good ‘Indian guy kicks ass’ vibes, only with more pronounced noir-ish pretensions than KILL. The poster released so far (above) gives KILL a July 5 release date in India, but there’s no date for North America yet. Some PR stuff from that link above:

‘American audiences have become more open than ever to bold filmmaking from all corners of the world. We were astounded by Kill and dazzled by the artistry of director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat,’ said Lauren Bixby, SVP Acquisitions and Co-Productions at Lionsgate. ‘We’re confident that Kill will find an audience ready to delight in this film’s exuberant mayhem.’

In a joint statement, producers Karan Johar, Apoorva Mehta from Dharma Productions, and Guneet Monga Kapoor and Achin Jain from Sikhya Entertainment said: ‘It is a huge leap and moment for us to be joining hands with Lionsgate for our U.S. and UK theatrical releases. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the studio that’s behind the success of globally acclaimed cinematic masterpiece such as John Wick. This is a historic moment in Indian cinema and we’re elated to be creating a new milestone with our commercial Indian action thriller Kill, a never-before-seen genre film in India.’

And yes, as far as Indian action cinema goes, this is a ‘never-before-seen’ genre picture from there. India has been cranking out glossy, Big Action spectacles for ages, especially in recent years, but the producers of KILL saw the popularity lean, dark, ultra-violent action films from other countries and decided to go all-in on their first one.

There are no song and dance numbers. Just a small train full of passengers besieged by a band of 40 vicious thieves who don’t realize there’s an elite army commando (with multiple sets of ‘special skills’ and a friend) on board trying to gain the good graces of the wealthy family of the woman he loves before her arranged marriage in New Delhi. There’s plenty of action in the first 45 minutes of this movie, but nothing that really makes you think it’s much different from all of those other bigger-budgeted spectacles apart from a bigger emphasis on martial arts, but then the opening title finally appears on screen, and after that everybody just goes nuts, and the viciousness and gore are relentless until the end. One of the choreographers on the film, Oh Se-Young, was a stuntman and/or choreographer on a ton of great Korean action pictures, and some Indian and Vietnamese shows as well. He also worked on SNOWPIERCER, so he clearly brought that experience with fast-paced close-quarters combat to KILL, times ten.

I suspect this film could do alright internationally. Lionsgate and the Indian companies have done pretty well by hushing after the solid notices out of TIFF, so perhaps they’ll capitalize on the release of MONKEY MAN to get KILL on the radar.

I recorded this Q&A at the TIFF premiere. I can’t remember if there are spoilers – but the film DOES have some major twists, so it might be best avoided until you’ve seen the film.

Segment with the producers from a local news show here in September. They indulge in a little hyperbole, but they’re not wrong.

John Wick

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