Review: Kills on Wheels

Cinema: Kills on Wheels (2016)

A wheelchair bound hitman recruits 2 other physically disabled people from a rehabilitation centre to help him kill unscrupulous villains“.

If I were to leave it at the above short synopsis, you may well imagine a movie similar to I initially did when seeing the premise for Kills on Wheels; a low budget exploitation movie, whereby actors pretending to be disabled take a tongue in cheek approach to the situation they are in, while all the time engaging in over the top gun fights with blood flying everywhere. While that may well have tickled my ‘exploitation movie’ fancy, what I got was thankfully something very different indeed.

Rupaszov (Szaboics Thuróczy) is a former fireman recently released from prison and is confined to a wheelchair after an accident left him paralysed from the waist down. He makes friends with 2 disabled youths; Zolika (Zoltán Fenyvesi) and Barba Papa (Ádám Fekete), whom he proceeds to take to a club, get drunk, and then involve them in one of his hits for his boss Rados (Dusán Vitanovics) under the assumption that nobody would suspect disabled people. Upon finding out that Rupaszov has accomplices, Rados instructs him to kill them. Now conflicted between the personal relationship he is building between Zolika and Barba, and his professional relationship with Rados, Rupaszov has a life or death decision to make.

The English title ‘Kills on Wheels’ doesn’t really do the movie any justice at all, whereby the Hungarian title ‘Tiszta szívvel’ translates (thank you Google) to a more fitting “With Pure Heart”. The movie isn’t all about wheelchair based killing (though that does happen) as at the very centre of it are stories of relationships, hopes, dreams and shattered illusions. Zolika and Barba attend comic conventions in the never ending hope that they can get a publishing deal for a comic they are working on, while Zolika refuses to have a life saving operation for reasons which I’ll let you find out for yourself.

That is not to say that there aren’t comedic elements in Kills on Wheels. A scene where Barba’s shaking hand makes him press the wrong button on a vending machine raised a hearty chuckle from me, as did when an intimidating thug plunges a blade into Rupasov’s leg, only to then see blood bubble up and Rupaszov calmly pull it out from his unfeeling thigh. The comedy never goes too extreme, and more importantly, you are laughing WITH the characters, not AT them. All too often movies look down, both figuratively and literally, at disabled people, whereas here, director and writer Attila Till has crafted a story that is both sympathetic and empowering to anyone in that situation.

It is important to note that the actors in Kills on Wheels are themselves disabled and this definitely adds to the believability of the situations they find themselves in, no cgi trickery here, what you see is what you get with all the lead actors doing a fantastic job.

Put aside any preconceptions you may have based on the title, and make sure to get to one of the screenings listed below. An absolute gem of a movie that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.

Screenings confirmed at time of review are:

  • London, Vue Acton, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Croydon, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Finchley Road, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Harrow, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Islington, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue North Finchley, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Shepherds Bush, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Stratford, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Wood Green, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • London, Vue Leeds Light, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • Manchester, Vue Manchester Printworks, 15 September 2017 (7 days)
  • Manchester, Home, 15 September 2017 Book Now 
  • Sheffield, Showroom, 15 September 2017 (7 days) Book Now 
  • Bristol, Watershed, 15 September 2017 (5 days) Book Now 
  • London, Picturehouse Central, 22 September 2017 (2 days)
  • London, Prince Charles Cinema, 24 September 2017 (3 days) Book Now 
  • Ipswich, Ipswich Film Theatre (IFT), 29 September 2017 (7 days) Book Now
  • Canterbury, Gulbenkian Cinema, 30 September 2017 (1 day) Book Now 
  • London, Genesis Cinema, 5 October 2017 (1 day)
  • Cardiff, Chapter Arts Centre, 7 October 2017 (4 days)
  • Colchester, Colchester Arts Centre, 8 October 2017 (1 day) Book Now 
  • Oswestry, KinoKulture Cinema, 12 October 2017 (1 day)
  • Colchester, Firstsite, 13 October 2017 (1 day)
  • Hull, Vue Hull, 24 October 2017 (1 day)

Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from an online screening link kindly supplied by Eureka Entertainment.