Director Dee McLachlan’s ninth and latest feature, The Wheel, took the prize of Best Martial Arts Film for its presentation at the sixth Urban Action Showcase last year in New York City. It’s a welcome milestone given its trajectory since then with screenings at Hollywood Dreamz and Las Vegas’s Action On Film Megafest event this year before touring in Europe.
The Wheel has since continued its screening route in Australia and will plant its feet at the Ritz Cinema on Wednesday, September 4 in Sydney. Hosted by Oz Comic-Con, more screenings will be held in Brisbane on September 21 and 22 before doubling back to Sydney on September 28 and 29 with actor Jackson Gallagher and the film’s stunt team in attendance.
Under duress and with a promise he’ll walk again, Matthew Mills, a paraplegic prison inmate agrees to volunteer to be injected with a synthetic nanomaterial. He wakes up in a steel room with restored use of his legs but he is in a spoke of the experimental apparatus – The Wheel.
Mills is a human lab-rat, part of the Future Soldier Initiative, a clandestine operation redesigning the human species on behalf of the military. Neuroscientists, Dr Emmett Snyder and Dr Allison Turner, control Mills’ life. A series of assailants inflict a multitude of damage to Mills’ body and torment his mind, yet the synthetic nanomaterial not only restores his damaged organs, it re-engineers his physical strength. The experiment might be designed to kill, but Mills is determined to survive – and get back to his only daughter.
However, Mills is the perfect specimen and completes a full revolution. Snyder orders a live autopsy to harvest living samples but an ethical crisis in Turner sets Mills’ escape in motion, and as they battle armored assailants, they unhinge Snyder’s rage. Finally, it is discovered that Mills’ rare phenotype is the key for precipitating mass inductions.
James S. Abrams makes his feature screenwriting debut for McLachlan who herself has accrued a few wins in her career among a raft of nominations, including for 1995 release, Running Wild, and 2007 Aussie crime thriller, The Jammed.
The Wheel partly hails from Umbrella Entertainment who will be handling distribution in Australia for a date that currently awaits announcing. Gallagher is joined by actors David Arquette and actress Kendall Rae, with Christopher Kirby, Belinda McClory and Ben Steel also starring.