After a prison riot, former-Captain Nascimento, now a high ranking security officer in Rio de Janeiro, is swept into a bloody political dispute that involves government officials and paramilitary groups.
Best buddies Acerola and Laranjinha, about to turn 18, discover things about their missing fathers' pasts which will shatter their solid friendship, in the middle of a war between rival drug gangs from Rio's favelas.
Starting off with simple smash and grabs, and petty crime, Lucky Kunene quickly graduates to more aggressive heists such as armed robbery and carjacking. Soon, Lucky realizes he needs a bigger score to fulfill his goals of making it big, and escaping from the slums, to a dream house by the sea. Kunene hatches an elaborate and violent plan to make his fortune - hijacking buildings from landlords of Johannesburg tenements by winning the favor of the tenants and then holding their rent hostage from the landowners. His high-profile real estate acquisitions attract the attention of the local police force who have no qualms about using unprovoked brutality to bring him down. His trouble with the law, coupled with an escalating war between a local drug lord, creates a tense standoff: both sides are closing in, and Kunene must stay one step ahead--or his empire, and his life, will come crashing down. Written by
DIRECTOR Ralph Ziman's vivid, action-packed South African gangster epic makes for exciting big screen entertainment. Highly commercial and hardly politically correct, but reeking with authenticity, the aptly and ironically titled "Jerusalema" offers cinema-goers the same sort of tough, high-energy thrills as crime epics like "Scarface", "American Gangster" and "City of God". Unlike "Tsotsi", it's not out win awards, or to preach about the struggle. It's out to please crowds. Yet, while telling a strong, funny, gripping, well-acted story of a young gangster's rise to power, it also manages to paint a devastating picture of how and why crime has spiraled out of control in the new South Africa. Telling its tale on a broad canvas, it begins in Soweto in the early 1990s, introducing the audience to two teenage boys, Lucky Kunene (Jafta Mamabolo) and his best friend Zakes (Motlatsi Mahloko). Lucky is an intelligent, ambitious youngster from a poor single parent home who is accepted into university. He doesn't, however, get a bursary, so he tries to earn money through various legitimate schemes. None of which succeed. Eventually he and Zakes are sucked into crime though their relationship with Nazareth (a potent Jeffrey Sekele), an angry disaffected, former ANC guerilla. And soon they're hijacking cars ("affirmative repossession", says Nazareth). But, after a botched robbery and a near fatal encounter with the police, the lads must flee to the "jungles" of Hillbrow. Cut to five years later. Lucky and Zakes (now played by Rapulana Seiphemo and Ronnie Nyakale) are operating a pirate Taxi and scraping by. It's a dangerous life and when armed rivals steal their taxi, Lucky decides to return to crime. "Jeruselema" might shock some middle-class viewers, but it is riveting fare and the crowd I saw it with clapped and cheered along with the action. The charismatic Seiphemo delivers a stunning performance - turning Lucky into a surprisingly sympathetic anti-hero, and he's superbly supported by Nyakale, Sekele and a devilish Malusi Skenjana, who plays a slimy Nigerian drug dealer. Then there are the great action scenes and the powerful underlying themes. This vibrant, violent, colorful, authentic crime thriller, which pays homage to Michael Mann's classic, "Heat" heralds a new dawn in South African film-making and is highly recommended to audiences looking for top notch entertainment.
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