Set when the apartheid government was still in control, this powerful South African thriller is based on the true story of a policeman belonging to an elite government squad who was ... See full summary »
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
Writer-director Ralph Ziman learned how a gang had stolen a whole building in Hillbrow in Johannesburg through coercion. He began researching the phenomenon by interviewing reporters, police officers, social workers and lawyers, only to discover that the practice is highly commonplace in South Africa. See more »
When Lucky and his gang storm into the club for the climactic shoot-out, it is still dark outside. However, a few minutes later he chases his nemesis onto the roof of the building where it is clearly broad daylight. See more »
Incredible Film - Shame about the lack of mainstream distribution
I saw this film previewed on CNN and went to see it at the Zurich Film Festival with some American friends of mine. Being South African one could see that this film was simply a labour of love for the beloved country. Ralph Ziman, the self effacing director was on hand to talk about the film after the movie and I asked him how he got all the original footage of the Mandela inauguration etc, which he has cleverly weaved into the movie. His answer was amazing: He shot it himself over the years, which means that Ralph has single handedly created parts of a record of SA history no one else has. At the end of the day the film is broad enough and topical enough to override Tsotsi on many levels, dealing with the integral white black relationship in South Africa (the main black criminal building hijacker in the movie has an affair with a well to do white Jewish girl from the burbs) and how these parts of society interrelate. Last but not least, as it is not stuck in the modality of "Tsotsi only" it manages to look refreshingly at a broad swathe of the themes and reality affecting SA society today. Though Ralph denies it :) (correct me if I am wrong Ralph) Tsotsi has inevitably influenced the making of Jerusalema but on many levels is radically different. In a sense I missed the whimsical sadness of Tsotsi and Jerusalema pans through the skyline and scenes of our Johannesburg far too fast to really do it justice. More of that please. However, its a fast moving film that was enjoyed not just by me but by some Americans I dragged along to it. They really liked it proving that it scope and graphic talks to a worldwide audience. Bravo Ralph. Your country has cause to be very proud of you. You are a true son of South Africa.
32 of 34 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?