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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Boy Kills World (MA) - 111 minutes

As the expression goes, revenge is a dish best served cold, which suggests that vengeance is more satisfying if one bides their time to obtain it.

 

So is the case in Boy Kills World.

 

Its storyline and visuals were inspired by elements of state-of-the-art video games, Korean action movies, Japanese anime and classic horror fantasy.

 

The origins of the dystopian action thriller can be traced back to an idea that director Mortiz Mohr and fight choreographer Dawid Szatarski began to explore five years ago.

 

I speak of a classic revenge tale about a young man in a savage world bent on destroying the people that murdered his family. But suddenly there is a twist.

 

Mohr and Szatarski, along with screenwriter Arend Remmers produced a five-minute proof-of-concept film for about $20,000. It starred Szatarski as a deaf and mute orphan trained from childhood to become an instrument of bloody revenge.

 

And so Boy Kills World was born.

In an unnamed postapocalyptic dynasty, the tyrannical Van Der Koy clan rules with brutal efficiency.

 

Led by matriarch Hilda (Famke Janssen, X-Men), the family exacts terrifying punishment on anyone who dissents.

 

Each year, its heavily armed military hunts down its enemies for what is known as the Culling: a brutal public ritual in which helpless citizens are slaughtered in a televised extravaganza. That concept reminded me of The Hunger Games.

 

When his family is targeted, a young boy miraculously escapes death with the help of a mysterious shaman (Yayan Ruhian, The Raid).

The Van Ker Koy family murdered the boy's mother and sister and tried to kill him.

 

The child grows up in isolation in a primitive jungle enclave, unable to speak to or hear anyone but the wisecracking ghost of his younger sister.

 

Subjecting him to a punishing regimen of martial arts training and drug-induced rituals, his rescuer – the shaman – systematically indoctrinates Boy, as he is known, to become an instrument of revenge.

 

As Boy (Bill Skarsgard, John Wick: Chapter 4) reaches manhood, he embarks on a blood-soaked quest for justice against Hilda and her family.

 

Think extreme video game violence, decapitations, sword play and blood spurting and you have a handle on what is in play in Boy Kills World.

It is pretty much a straightforward revenge thriller with a high body count (think the likes of Liam Neeson’s 2008 film Taken, but even more cartoon-like and unbelievable), until the unexpected happens.

 

Everything that we think is going down gets turned on its head.

 

It is a clever and necessary surprise. From there, is it a question of working out just who is on whose side.

 

It is a film in which everyone literally takes a hit. In other words, no one leaves unscathed.

 

I can’t say any of the acting is top shelf. It feels like it is all being done by the numbers, merely an excuse to deliver more fight scenes.

Skarsgard adopts an all but blank look. As his character explains, more than once, he exists in a liminal state, seemingly caught between reality and fantasy.

 

I can’t say I readily built a connection with any of the characters, including the hero and all could readily have been achieved in 90 minutes.

 

While the action was well choreographed, I tired of the non-stop martial arts slugfest, which saw Boy Kills World stretched to 111 minutes. By the end, it had become quite an ordeal.

 

Perhaps it is one for the younger brigade because it certainly wasn’t my cup of tea.

 

Rated MA, Boy Kills World scores a 5 out of 10.

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