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Panic Mechanic (1996)

When Hanky Pranky (alias Schucks), star of a candid camera TV show, loses his job to affirmative action, he applies for a job at a stress academy. It's not long before Schucks discovers his... See full summary »


David Lister


André Scholtz (screenplay), Leon Schuster (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Leon Schuster ... Schucks / Various characters
Frantz Dobrowsky Frantz Dobrowsky ... Jack Paddaman
Tolla van der Merwe Tolla van der Merwe ... Jakob
Nana Stapelberg Nana Stapelberg ... Gloria Haasbroek
Themba Ndaba Themba Ndaba ... Billy
Taryn Sudding ... Annie / Various characters
John Robbie John Robbie ... Himself
Sello Sebotsane Sello Sebotsane ... Hijacker
Dorette Nel ... Saartjie
Desmond Dube Desmond Dube ... SABC affirmative
Lieb Bester Lieb Bester ... Gys
Ernest Ndlovu Ernest Ndlovu ... SABC boss (as Ernest Ndhlovu)
Tim Plewman Tim Plewman ... Minister of Transport
Coco Merckel Coco Merckel ... Chauffeur (as Conrad Merckel)
Pierre van Pletzen Pierre van Pletzen ... Coetzee


When Hanky Pranky (alias Schucks), star of a candid camera TV show, loses his job to affirmative action, he applies for a job at a stress academy. It's not long before Schucks discovers his new boss, Jack Paddaman, is as crooked as they come, but it's too late: the employment contract is signed and sealed.A year passes, and Schucks is no better off. However, his candid camera videos, which poke fun at all sectors of post-1994 South Africa, prove a big hit with stressed-out government ministers. When the president asks Paddaman to make a movie to benefit street children, Schucks and his pals do all the hard work while Paddaman plans how he can get hold of the profits from the video sales. Add a scatterbrained secretary, a lovelorn traffic cop and a cunning street child and you have a roll-in-the aisles comedy with a distinctly South African flavour. Written by Ashley Pillay

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






South Africa


Afrikaans | English

Release Date:

6 December 1996 (South Africa) See more »

Also Known As:

Vigyázz, kész, pánik! See more »

Filming Locations:

South Africa

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


It became the highest grossing film South Africa had ever made (R16 million). See more »


Follows Oh Schucks ..... It's Schuster! (1989) See more »

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User Reviews

Can you let yourself be hijacked?
15 February 2007 | by przgzrSee all my reviews

There are some quotes persons or whole families accept after watching certain movies or TV programs, and they can use them lifelong, while other people can't understand what are they talking about if they haven't seen the original. Someone who has never seen "'Allo 'Allo" can never get why someone laughs at "Listen carefully, I shall say this only once".

'Hi Jack' has for years been one of such quotes in my family. I have seen a clip lately on http://www.spikedhumor.com/articles/2936/Hi_Jack.html - but it is too short; only listening to one or two minutes long introduction to the scene, when the narrator tells us the statistics about hijacks, and understanding the character's name is Jack can perform the effect on the audience. An opening scene like this makes people forgive weaker moments that movie might have later.

But, on the other hand, it can raise the expectations, and whilst you wait for movie to develop you suddenly find you are not sure if it is a movie at all. Long and frequent candid camera scenes make it sometimes look like New Year eve TV show. Sometimes you can't be sure when the genuine candid camera starts, or is it an ordinary movie acted scene.

I don't believe there are many nations that don't have their own candid camera programs. And usually these shows are very popular in the country they were made, but most frequently never cross the border. Most jokes, especially the best ones, can be understood if you are familiar with the circumstances they have been performed, often funny due to local dialect or some untranslatable word game. So at least you have to know something about the culture, people, history of the country that produced it, otherwise you will never understand how can anybody find it amusing.

However, many networks bring us American candid camera shows, or maybe made abroad but inspired by their type of humor: short slapstick jokes, mostly without words, usually a soul-less Laurel&Hardy or Chaplin ripoffs. They don't try to make us use our brains, as well as most modern globalization TV or movie successes, and they end in 10 or 15 seconds having nothing more to offer.

Schuster could have adapted his humor to international audience but he would have to reduce his ideas, clean jokes from everything local what he had built his career on. After Yankee Zulu, (which was a real movie and, despite of many weaknesses, had chances to be understandable and accepted, especially as it ends in rather bad Home Alone rip-off that is so popular worldwide) he returned to.his roots confirming his star position in RSA and ignoring the fact that people abroad won't even try to figure what it is all about. World doesn't know the complex South Africa situation, reducing it all to black-white relations. Schuster addresses Panic Mechanic to those who have enough previous knowledge. He wasn't teaching the others. He wasn't revealing big truths. He was simply using everyday life to entertain himself and consequently the audience. And, as everyday life is, this is sometimes more, sometimes less funny and successful.

If you don't look for big art, if you are ready to forgive a bit incoherent script (no major holes because there is no firm plot at all), but if your brain is working on level higher than slipping on banana or sitting on freshly painted bench - this is a movie that will hijack you.

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