Raghav Juyal as Fani stands with his gang members in the train in Kill movie

India’s ‘Most Violent Film’ Spills Blood and Guts Like It’s ‘The Boys’

You're going to need a strong stomach for this one.

How good an action movie do you have to be for the director of the John Wick franchise to want to remake you? A pretty relentless one. Enter: Kill, an Indian Hindi-language film written and directed by Nikhil Nagesh Bhat, starring Lakshya and Raghav Juyal, that has everyone impressed.

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The promotional tagline of Kill is that it is the most violent film to come out of India, and that’s sure to grab eyeballs, because the violence in Indian films is rather sanitized. It’s mostly designed to make the hero look invincible (RRR) and stylish (Jawan), occasionally adding a comic element (Kalki 2898 AD). 

But in Kill, both the good guys and the bad guys fight, stab, and slash with the speed of a John Wick action sequence, and leave a train of mangled bodies in their wake that reminds me of the remorselessness of The Boys and raw brutality of Game of Thrones. It’s bloody, savage, and more importantly, the violence is intentional.

What’s Kill about?

Amrit (Lakshya) and Viresh (Abhishek Chauhan) are NSG commandos (National Security Guard, an elite counter-terrorism unit of India). They’ve just returned from a mission when they find out that Amrit’s girlfriend Tulika (Tanya Maniktala), the daughter of a powerful transport businessman, is getting engaged against her will. Amrit and Viresh board a train bound for Delhi, in which Tulika and her family are also traveling on their way back home from the engagement. 

A local gang of dacoits, wielding knives and a cellphone jammer, attacks the train. Fani (Raghav Juyal), the son of the gang leader and ruthless in his pursuit of a good bounty, stumbles upon Tulika. Things take an unexpected turn for both the lovebirds and Fani and his gang, who didn’t expect Amrit, a fully trained NSG commando going on a bloody rampage, to thwart their robbery.

Kill has some masterfully choreographed action and relentless violence

Lakshya as Amrit about to kill the bad guy in Kill movie

There’s something utterly lawless about trains. I’ve seen it in Indian films and American westerns. (Weirdly, the dacoit gang leader gets an entry music straight out of some Clint Eastwood film?!) Despite watching enough onscreen plane debacles, it’s the action movies set in trains that just trigger a more potent fear and claustrophobia. Something could be happening in one train car and the others wouldn’t know jack about it.

Kill, set during a nighttime train journey through northern India, takes advantage of all these characteristics to craft a roughly two-hour adrenaline-filled thrill ride. The action, choreographed by Korean action director Se-yeong Oh who has worked on Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer (2013) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), is inspired and novel. In one particular sequence, the bad guys are stopped in their tracks when they see Amrit’s handiwork: a train car full of bodies of their men hanging from the ceiling like slaughtered animals. 

From the way the characters fight and fall over in a compartment full of passengers to how attacks are blocked, kills are executed, bodies are staged, and the squelching sound effects that make it all ten times worse, Kill had me at the edge of my seat, one hand poised to cover my eyes, and screaming “OMG he didn’t!” at regular intervals.

What doesn’t work for Kill

Kill works when it is strictly serving as an action film. The slow-mo romantic interludes are a pace killer in the first half. I get that they exist to help you understand the depth of Amrit’s love that will eventually fuel his adrenaline rush. However, the character of Tulika (A Suitable Boy’s Tanya Maniktala) doesn’t have much to offer and gets some very cheesy dialogue. She could’ve been written better. 

In Kill, the bad guy might just win you over

Raghav Juyal as Fani stands with his gang members in the train in Kill movie

Lakshya (Amrit), making his debut, carries the action hero weight on his able shoulders and is immensely watchable in the romantic scenes, too. I’m keen to see what he does next.

I must admit that, at one point, I feared for the lives of the bad guys; that’s how bloody it got! But it is the actor playing the bad guy, Raghav Juyal, who steals the show as he brings an impressive chaotic evil energy to his character Fani. Leading his gang from one bad decision to another, Fani’s villainy is laced with humor, cricket and pop culture references, and greed. He fancies himself a performer and a leader, and his clashes with his father, the actual gang leader, are reflective of the ethical differences of generations, of warm blood and old blood, of traditional and modern.

What sets Kill apart from anything else that’s come out of India

The creative visualisation and the unwavering ruthlessness of its action are this film’s biggest selling point. There’s one kill in Kill, neck severed and blood spurting, that looks like it could’ve been the handiwork of The Mountain from Game of Thrones. A spectacular shot, that actually earned hoots from the audience for just how creative it was, involved a man stabbed through his eye with a knife thrown all the way from the other end of the train car. The blood and bits of guts and brain splattered on the floor could make you wonder if you’ve walked into an episode of The Boys! Because Indian films could never … until Kill.

As an avid watcher of the Indian action entertainers, I was further surprised to see how director Nikhil Nagesh Bhat chose to humanize the villains without employing the usual humor. If the hero softens a little thinking of his girl, the bad guys are taking a moment to mourn the men they’ve lost because they’re all brothers, fathers, uncles, and nephews. There’s fear in their eyes and moments when sense prevails. The men actually turn on their leader who is sending his men to such brutal deaths. But both sides keep going, fueled by revenge and survival instincts.

I appreciate how Kill definitely refines the Indian action movie formula but doesn’t lose the simple Indian quirks. Its premise of a two lovers separated by society and the girl’s rich/powerful father has been seen countless times before, from Shah Rukh Khan’s Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge to another of his films from the same production house as Kill, Mohabbatein. It’s a characteristic of such films that the hero, no matter how hurt and destroyed, does not back down until he wins.

Kill, then, is like a dystopian AU for these films where love doesn’t win all that easily through some song and dance but takes a violent rampage. And a bloody good one at that.

Produced by Dharma Productions (Baahubali) and Sikhya Entertainment (The Elephant Whisperers), Kill premiered last year at the Toronto International Film Festival and was the runner-up in their Midnight Madness section. It became the first Hindi-language film to be acquired by a Hollywood studio to release directly in the United States.

Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions will releases Kill theatrically in the United States on July 4, 2024, a day before its release in India.

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Jinal Bhatt
Jinal Bhatt (She/Her) is a staff writer for The Mary Sue. An editor, writer, film and culture critic with 7+ years of experience, she writes primarily about entertainment, pop culture trends, and women in film, but she’s got range. Jinal is the former Associate Editor for Hauterrfly, and Senior Features Writer for Mashable India. When not working, she’s fangirling over her favourite films and shows, gushing over fictional men, cruising through her neverending watchlist, trying to finish that book on her bedside, and fighting relentless urges to rewatch Supernatural.