KILL (Sydney FF 2024) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

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Amrit (the monymous Lakshya) is in love, the elite army commando returning from an operation only to find that his sweetheart Tulika (Tanya Maniktala) has in fact been forced into an engagement with another man by her powerful, influential father. With his focus on finding a way to win her back, he boards a train with his best friend headed to New Delhi that Tulika and her family are also on. Little do they know, however, that a group of vicious bandits – headed by the ferocious Fan (Raghav Juyal) – also have their sites on this same train journey, planning an audacious robbery. When Amrit intercepts and interrupts their plans, all hell breaks loose and a desperate fight for survival begins.

The stuff that midnight screenings are made of, Kill is a fast paced, electrifying action film whose graphic violence is outshone only by its immaculate choreography and kinetic, dizzying editing. Armit is the perfect action hero; handsome and romantic, but driven by a kind of fearlessness that makes him able to stand up to a seemingly endless onslaught of physical attacks. This is, after all, while we’re here: the romance might give us a narrative framework, but it’s all in the service of what in practical terms takes up the large majority of the film’s runtime: the ceaseless, unending display of brutal hand-to-hand combat.

There are some weapons, mind you, but none more spectacular than actual human body parts – feet, legs, heads and of course hands, and those of Lakshaya’s Amrit in particular. The film issues a kind of acrobatic masculinity that would make Burt Lancaster blush, all shot through a bloody lens that would make Peckinpah proud. The film is all about testosterone, as competing forces of good men and bad men duke it out so if a nuanced take on gender politics is what you are after, perhaps look elsewhere. But this film makes no apologies for what it is: a straight-up action film onslaught which promises you a vast, impressive spectrum of the ways that bones can be broken, bodies can snap, and bad guys put in their place.

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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas is a multi-award-winning film critic and author who has published nine books on cult, horror and exploitation cinema with an emphasis on gender politics, including the 2020 book ‘1000 Women in Horror, 1898-2018’ which was included on Esquire Magazine’s list of the best 125 books written about Hollywood. Alexandra is a contributing editor at Film International, a columnist at Fangoria, an Adjunct Professor at Deakin University, and a member of the advisory board of the Miskatonic Institute of Horror Studies (LA, NYC, London).