Viva Riva! (2010) Poster

(2010)

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9/10
Not just another mobster flick!
SkitzoJohnnyLuva24 May 2011
I initially thought this movie would be like any other mobster flick, but I was blown away at how good it actually was. I felt the actors were well chosen for their characters, especially Patsha Bay as Riva. He was a clever character that had me intrigued of what he was going to do next. Most scenes happen in Kinshasha which fits into the plot line and is also visually appealing. I feel the plot went to many extremes and was comical at times, which worked extremely well. If you're looking for an action packed film with quite an amount of gore, this films perfect for you ( as I do enjoy these type of films myself). This is definitely a must see and I can't wait to see it again.
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9/10
Fine film shot in Kinshasa
hudin6 February 2011
I had the privilege to watch this film at a small, private screening and was blown away. It's a tight, well-shot film with a strong narrative and characters that is not only believable, but also realistic. Shot in Kinshasa, I believe that it must be one of if not the only feature-length narrative film to shot in this vibrant and chaotic capital of the Congo. The performances are strong and everything is exceptionally tight. I recommend seeing it if you get a chance, even if you're not in to the "gangster" genre. While previously just a documentary filmmaker, I look forward to future work from the director, Djo Munga.
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10/10
Viva Riva Needs A Review
grodemann24 May 2011
I haven't watched too many African films, and I don't mean to just lump them in with foreign films, but I love how this movie didn't try to dub in English or anything like that which would ruin the movie for me. The french dialect was cool to listen too, the subtitles made perfect sense and were easy to read. With that consideration handled so well the movie is free to shine on its own right. As I'm sure that others have said this movie does have intense violence and sexual scenes that may not be for your mother, but I don't want you to get the impression that the movie is all about debauchery and violence. There's also themes of strong family loyalty, and what leverage these loyalties can provide to an enterprising bad guy. Honestly the setting strikes close to home, with the gas shortage and skyrocketing prices, times are desperate and people feel pushed to live life to the fullest. Without this setting I don't think the movie could have take these characters to such an amazing place on screen.
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9/10
remarkable accomplishment!
thurholc9 May 2011
the film is quite good. not suitable for those wary of violence and sexual themes, however the mayhem fits within the storyline and is a reflection of real life in the Congo. all the actors except one of the leading females are native to sub-Saharan Africa. although they are appearing in a film for the first time, their performances were all quite nuanced and polished. this was also the first film for the director and i hope we see more from him. you would never believe it, but the entire production was shot using Canon 5D cameras, digital is going to put a lot of folks out of business. maybe worth an 8 but gave it a 9 because the film is goo AND doesn't go out its way to please the typical focus group which is always a plus in my book.
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10/10
Legit action film!
mdett24 May 2011
I was a bit cynical before watching the movie but I was extremely pleased with it and would absolutely watch it again and again. It was a great film and reminded me of Blood Diamond meets Last King of Scotland with a much more intense plot and a realistic feeling. I thought it was a great portrayal of the economically damaged region of the Congo. I researched that the director is actually from that part of Africa and he did a wonderful job representing his homeland. The acting was fabulous and Patsha Bay (Riva) is quite a delectable African man who does a great job portraying a gasoline operator. I did not want this movie to end. It was def. a great action film! Looking forward to more films from this director and genre.
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10/10
Thrilling
amc2149024 May 2011
Viva Riva is great film. It effectively portrays a ruthless environment as its characters struggle, not just for wealth and fortune but for their lives. There is no easy path for them—this movie shows a 'fight or die' spirit that inhibits all. Viva Riva is sometimes very violent and sexual, but with great acting throughout. I've only seen a handful of movies from the region, and this is one of quality that further represents not only the hardships of the cultures there, but also the talent artistically. Extremely exciting and thrilling, Viva Riva is an action-packed drama at its best. I highly recommend it to anyone who likes exciting movies.
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7/10
Gangster movie, African style
rubenm10 September 2011
Criminals fighting over stolen loot, double-crossing each other and paying off corrupt law-enforcers. Lots of shoot-outs and fist-fights. Beautiful women and tough guys. The occasional sex scene. A plot that twists and turns.

Sounds like your average Hollywood gangster flick. But this is not Hollywood, but Kinshasa. The loot is not cocaine, but petrol. The location is not downtown LA or the Bronx, but a Congolese slum. The foreign gang leader is not Mexican, but Angolan. The hero doesn't drive a flashy car, but a battered wreck with 'auto école' written on it.

Viva Riva is an unusual combination: a classic gangster movie, set in one of the poorest countries in the world. The result is an interesting film, that can appeal to thriller-fans and to art-house movie lovers.

The movie has nothing of a classic third world film. Poverty or inequality is not an issue. It's all about fast-paced action. At the same time, it's very authentic. The language is Lingala, the slums are real, the music is Congolese. No artificial ingredients to please a western public.

The plot has a lot of noir-elements. The femme fatale, leading the hero to his downfall; a labyrinthine plot, with no-one trusting no-one; and the seedy bars and brothels where a lot of the action takes place.
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6/10
A praiseworthy sign for the future of African cinema?
man_out_of_time9 April 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I recently saw Viva Riva! at Lincoln Center, where it was among the opening films of the African Film Festival. The movie was well received by the audience, including, to my surprise, by women. Festival organizers announced that the film had just swept the African Movie Academy Awards, and the general feeling seemed to be that it served as proof African cinema is really coming into its own.

However, aside from the location filming in Kinshasa, I saw very little to differentiate this film from well-produced mass-market Hollywood product. Or rather, it seemed to me a slick American exploitation film on steroids. Much of the "fun" of watching it is that it is so comically extreme and audacious that you wonder whether it could pass MPAA muster and qualify for an R, rather than a NC-17 rating.

This movie has everything you could hope for from a salacious "chicks in prison" movie: explicit sex, explicit violence, gratuitous lesbian subplot, and a scene of a sexy woman urinating. What really puts it over the top, though, even by American standards, is the misogyny. At the beginning of the film, Riva's buddy J.M. is depicted as a family man with wife and children. Soon, however, is so horny that he reluctantly decides to do an "ugly" whore. "Shut up bitch!," he yells, when the whore asks for more money because the sex is so rough. Later, he beats up his wife in front of his kids and declares he is abandoning the family. Afterwards, there is another scene with the wife so we can enjoy her battered face.

During the Q & A after the movie, one of the stars said he thought the director wanted the violence to show the nihilistic state of rage that currently prevails in Kinshasa. A producer stated that the film's final scene with the kid actually represents a hopeful sign for the future. See whether you think this film bodes well for the future of African cinema.
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9/10
Not Just Sex and Violence...
ajamesbombard24 May 2011
I recently had the privilege of viewing Viva Riva and loved it. Viva Riva is full of plenty of violence and sex. However, this is not what the film is about, nor is it so strong that it consumes the story. It is a movie for those who love gangster violence, excitement, and sex in films. Yet, it is also for those who want to see a good movie with a great plot. The acting is excellent, as is the cinematography, and the storyline fits in between scenes of sex and mobster violence. Men will love this film, and women will be able to get into it due to its exciting story, filled with many twists and turns. This film may not be a completely accurate portrayal of the Congo, but this does not matter since it is not a documentary. Instead, it is a fictional, African gangster film. I am not saying to bring the entire family to this one, but I highly recommend mature individuals to see Viva Riva.
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10/10
An Eye-Opener
rashan-dianne24 May 2011
I enjoyed this movie beyond reason. It's got equal parts love story, action, and gore and kept me engaged all through. Set in the Congo, it follows the struggles between ruthless gangsters as they fight for control over gasoline, a commodity worth more than a fetch of money in an area where petroleum shortages are severe. The star actress of the movie who plays Nora is a character entangled in the struggle through her relationship with one gangster and love for another, who happens to be the movie's namesake, Riva. Nora plays a character who is equally troubling as she is seductive. Set in the Congo, this movie captures the place and its people eloquently, revealing complicated characters in a place plagued by raw poverty and crime.
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9/10
A 'neighborhood kid' returning to his hometown brings some baggage back with him.
riog-roberts24 May 2011
I caught a small screening of this film and couldn't take my eyes from the screen until the final credits rolled. A 'neighborhood kid' returning to his hometown brings some baggage back with him. Filmed on location in Kinshasa, this film makes you say 'Did they really just do that?' over and over. Riva may not be the best guy, but his attitude about life makes me respect him. Overall, I would call it a gangster flick set in the Congo with greed, corrupt government officials, and a dash of romance. You can also expect the usual twisting plot with plenty of action, sex, and alcohol. Nothing is left to the imagination. If it happens in the story, you get to see it.. all of it.
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10/10
Fun watch
sljw-tlc24 May 2011
I wasn't sure what to expect out of Viva Riva, but I have to say I was very pleased. It was a fun action film, with some nice twists and turns. I must say I really enjoyed the main character, Riva... but then again, I tend to be a fan of protagonists that are also bad guys. I absolutely loved the fact that he keeps a light hearted attitude regardless how much danger he is in. The bad guys in this film got a little ruthless too, so if anybody out there hasn't seen a good torture scene that made you cringe in awhile, you might be surprised by a rather messy scene in this film. It definitely is not for everyone, but if you are a fan of dark, suspense films with a healthy dose of violence, you should definitely see this one. I must say, after watching quite a few foreign films recently, this one was a nice change of pace. Not to mention, it was shot very well, and I for one am somewhat of a sucker for thoughtful cinematography.
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9/10
Really Fun Film!
Vantheman179024 May 2011
I got a chance to screen Viva Riva! recently and have to say that I had an incredible time watching this film. There are a lot of similarities to blaxploitation films of the 1970s which makes the film all the more interesting to watch. The film is action packed and suspenseful and really makes for a thrilling ride. Riva, played wonderfully by Patsha Bay, is full of grit and macho- ness that make him the most interesting character to watch. His chemistry with Nora (Manie Malone) is steamy and very sexually charged which is explored in a couple very seductive scenes. This film is somewhat of a guy's action movie with the overt sexuality of the characters and heavy use of fighting and gore. Overall, I would recommend this film to anybody looking for a truly gritty and bad ass film with a little more soul. The characters are strong and charismatic and ready to fight anyone who crosses their path!
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9/10
Viva Riva!
cartercrisp24 May 2011
Warning: Spoilers
He who has the gold, makes the rules. In Viva Riva!, the gold is fuel. Rising gas prices elicit moans and groans from Americans, but few understand the implications of a true fuel crisis. Especially one in a country subject to a rampant criminal element. I have no idea if this film is an accurate portrayal of the Congo or its people, but I don't care, because the setting is secondary to its completely believable sequence of events. When resources are scarce, the black market commodifies the catastrophe and violence ensues. Djo Tunda Wa Munga has created something Shakespearean and noirish here that is a gutpunch addition to the gangster genre. It's even more impressive for standing up against big-budget action fare while remaining driven by entangled ambition. These characters are ultimately all looking out for their own skin, but though their actions seem heartless, they also feel necessary. They've experienced the depths of an unforgiving world they're trying to escape. But hope for the future survives in the end, even if just about everything else doesn't. Gritty and sexy, strongly directed and acted with a solid script, this film will definitely be an addition to my collection at home.
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7/10
A good African pulp fiction movie
alexandros-1524 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
A good African pulp fiction movie with lots of random sex and violence and a fair dose of millenarian despair. Kinshasa today: Corruption, urban decay, dirty money and instant sexual gratification reign supreme. And no battle between 'good' and 'bad' around here, everybody is 'bad' fighting each other in a downward spiral reminiscent of the "no country for old men". Manie Malone is fantastic in a complex role while Hoji Fortuna adds some style. The plot is a straightforward story of sex and violence but the real story is the characters and the society around them. Not an exceptional or must see movie but a very good one.
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10/10
Amazing Movie!
brockwright8924 May 2011
I was a little skeptical when I went to watch this film only because I had never seen a film from Africa before. When the credits hit, I was is in awe of the film. For having no major actors or crew this movie was outstanding. The flow of film is non-stop actions and suspense of who is going to do find out what. I would equate the pace of the film to that of Michael Bay's Miami Vice. Of all the characters in the film, I would say the best performance came from the top villain in the film, Riva's old boss Cesar. He emphasized his silent, stalking persona to a T. He could command the screen without having to even dialogue. It will be great to see an underdog film make a splash in next years award season. I would recommend this film to anyone who is a fan of Ridley Scott films or the Jason Bourne series. Also Tarantion fans should find this film a great action thrill ride.
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10/10
A ruthless thriller!!
gdt0724 May 2011
A total action packed thriller with ruthless violence and exotic sex scenes! It follows the story of Riva, a charismatic young man who stole fuel from a gangster, his chase for Nora, a vibrant woman who is already dating another gangster, and a gangster's chase for Riva to try and get his money back. The movie successfully portrays the levels of violence people in the Congo can reach when stuck in a country ravished by poverty, corruption and hopelessness. It shows how the violent lust for money and power can lead to your doom. As we see in the end all the gangsters chase for money leads them nowhere but to their dead end. When the young boy pretends he is driving away with the money at the very end I got the feeling that it was supposed to symbolize that history repeats itself and that money is an evil tool that can take over anyone's life, even a young boys. Its an in your face look at the extreme brutal reality in the Congo, that makes you think and keeps you on your toes!
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Very Very Flashy, And Very Very Well Shot and Designed Crine Flick
mbs22 July 2011
Viva Riva works best as a film that will fill your eyes and I mean that in the best sense. The film looks really good from the costumes of the nattily dressed gangsters that Riva is trying to rip off to the complete flashiness of the art deco of the nightclubs that these guys rule over--the film is dripping with style. I should add that the movie is also dripping with violence also as the movie has quite a bit of violence even towards women in it throughout. Its not a film that spares someone from a beating just because she's a she.

The movie's narrative on the other hand is pretty classic. Small time hustler and thief returns to hometown and promptly falls for gangster's girl. Gangster notices and gets upset. Meanwhile the thief is being tracked down and targeted for revenge by the guys he stole from...and those guys are not playing around, they're way more dangerous then the flashy gangster. Film works really well to a point. That point would be the last twenty or so minutes (maybe even ten minutes) where the plot threads that have been forming the whole time finally come together but they don't exactly merge the way you'd like them to. I don't know if it works exactly but i enjoyed it more or less even if its not a plot you haven't already seen in many a film before.

Film is worth checking out tho if you're a fan of hard boiled crime stories or classic gangster cinema (by which i mean movies where the dames talk tougher then the anti heroes) Film does end kind of abruptly--there;s a big shootout (of course) but what happens at the end should've been made either more explicit or more final. Its interesting that i saw this not long before i saw "submarine" because while the two films have absolutely nothing in common--they both sort of suffer in comparison to other films in their genre but are both so so pretty to watch on their own that they almost make up for it in set design alone.
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7/10
Sexistential action Kinshasa style
hkehedren2 November 2011
Deliberate or not, our actions seem to have a way of coming back on us. Some believe that ancestors, universe or gods are in control, holding us accountable and making us reap what we sow. Others consider everything that happens to be random events, some more significant than others. In the world of Viva Riva! money, the main reason for living and the principal cause of death, is the only thing that matters.

In Djo Tunda Wa Munga's Kinshasa every man, woman and child is for themselves. It's a place where solidarity and gain are, if not synonymous so inseparable, and likely to shift at any time. A place where everyone is doing what they can to carve out a unique space within which to operate and make enough money to survive, maybe even thrive.

One of the hardest working hustlers is Riva (Patsha Bay), who has returned to his hometown Kinshasa with a truckload of petrol that he's planning to sell. During a night out he meets Nora (Manie Malone) and falls in love with her (or decides he wants to own her, a distinction that's hard to make in a world where the line between purchasing and physical desire is severely blurred). Before becoming obscenely rich and winning Nora's heart (which is obviously not for free), Riva first has to deal with César (Hoji Fortuna), the crook from whom he stole the petrol, and Azor (Diplome Amekindra), Nora's gangster boyfriend, who isn't prepared to let go of her, more out of a sense of ownership than love .

One could maybe be forgiven for being tempted to regard both Nora and Riva as just entertaining comic books heroes inhabiting a surreal world, but not for ignoring that Munga is reminding us that whatever we do, and whomever we have become, we are still someone's daughter or son, thus offering his audience the opportunity to engage with this sexy existential action in all its complexity. Similarly, writing off Nora as a passive black Barbie and the enemy of emancipated women would be a rather uninspired interpretation of a film that, like the brilliant TV-series The Wire and Deadwood, is a poignant and vibrant comment on capitalism gone haywire. Viva Riva! could actually not have been released at a better time, when countries are crumbling and thousands of New Yorkers and others are marching against a rampant capitalist system that is leaving millions of wounded along its way.

Amidst news about a country in flames, where people in general and women in particular are falling victim to unparalleled cruelties, it's not always easy to remember that people still dance, laugh, make love and cheat on each other in Kinshasa. And out of misguided concern for those who suffer, we might easily be fooled into denying the existence of every-day concerns in the DRC and other troubled corners of the world. What we should remember however, is that the day we forget that the Congolese are individuals that cannot be defined just by the circumstances they live under, that's the day when we'll forget about our shared humanity, and when we'll stop caring about a people too often portrayed as one-dimensional victims or villains without a past and no real hope of a future.Too proud a Congolese, Djo Munga won't allow us to forget or reduce his people, and too accomplished a filmmaker, he's incapable of not reminding us in the most exciting and entertaining way.

(This and other movie reviews are available on the blog IN THE WORDS OF KATARINA)
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10/10
Riveting thriller
eckersley-stephen27 July 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Saw this purely by accident when woken in the early hours. Glad I was woken because this unexpectedly turned out to be one the best films I've seen for a while. The whole ambiance of the movie seems to capture the ugly underworld chaos of Kinshasa and the blatant racial tensions between the Angolans and Congolese. The opportunity for making money in Riva's world is all that matters and lives are cheap demonstrated with gritty realism where gangsters are out-gangstered (even by the authorities). Even the church wants a piece of the action (surprise, surprise!)Nice main sub-plot concerning Nora and her relationships with both her husband and Riva. The full on chase by Riva to get Nora as his woman is a little implausible at times but works well and gets across his obsession with the "woman of his dreams". All in all a truly riveting film about a subject and location rarely depicted.
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An African Film Noir Tour de Force
transoptical20 November 2015
Someone did their homework in this brilliantly acted existential film; a sexually charged safari into the Kinshasa black market; a world of bandit capitalists looking for the contraband long deal in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, creating a new sub genre- African film noir...gritty, real, dark and poignant, where anyone who knows movies beyond the entertainment spectrum is going to find this bit of creative genius to be a damned fine piece of work which evidences an eye for nuance about the human condition as experienced in any 3rd World country where poverty is endemic and the struggle for survival is more than a party game.
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8/10
Kinshasa is a cow pie
rowmorg9 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Djo Munga has made a magnificent movie on a shoestring in Kinshasa. All hail to him! His hero, Riva of the title (Patsha Bay) is a daring, foolhardy type like all heroes, and he has no fear at all of stealing from gangster Azor (Diplome Amekindra) his gorgeous girl-friend, Nora, played by the ravishing Manie Malone. He has one more truckload of fuel in a city having a fuel crisis. Cesar (Hoji Fortuna) is also after it, as are several others, including a lady military officer (La Commandante: Marlene Longange). Even Riva's parents get a look-in. Everybody appears sooner or later in this wonderful picture. The great thing is that when somebody swings a punch, someone falls, hurt. And, by the same token, when somebody shoots a gun, people fall, but they do get up again in many cases. These are real people involved in a fiction film. It's a great work of art and I strongly recommend it.
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7/10
Viva Riva (2010)
SamWanjere24 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
While this movie might not stand out as an original, the story of decay, corruption and lust for Africa's resources is well told. I have tried to look for biographies on the actors with little success. If the movie was made with virtual unknowns I am doubly impressed.

The plot moves well with good screen chemistry for the actors. The sex scenes are among the best I've seen anywhere and the joy Riva brings to the screen and those he interacts with is refreshing.

There is the ultimate feeling of Grecian tragedy. You know deep down things won't end well. His death at the end is one of the most heroic and carefree ways of going I've yet seen.

The movie showcases the best of Africa (unbridled enthusiasm and live-a-day-at-a-time philosophy) alongside the worst (lust for power and resources, invasive western influence, etc)

It's a wonderful movie in my opinion. I would have awarded it more than a seven but for the originality bit. It's stereotypical but the tale is well told. Kudos to this Director.
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1/10
Viva Riva - really trash
lvives-23-9940669 April 2011
Every possible cliché and insult to women, Africa and humanity finds its way into this over-hyped over-long flick about a gangster who has a jones for an underfed light skinned red-haired woman getting in and out of big cars in a too-tight spangled cocktail dress (no underwear) who gets to have a lot of sex but not much of a speaking part in the movie. Lets not forget this is from a country that suffered through war, rapes, violence, yet the Congolese director (financed by some wealthy westerners) can think of no better script than 2 hours of savage shoot-em-ups, senseless beatings often of women, graphic raunchy sex till you want to scream Uncle, and the message is clearly self-hate and the worship of money and all that it buys. Some Angolan hoods are there to make disparaging remarks about the Congolese, and no one has a hint of a redeeming value (Elderly parents and obedient wives are not excluded from the gratuitous beatings). For westerners yearning to watch Africans do the nasty, here they can have their fill. For Africans looking to feel proud of their film industry, Djo Tunda wa Munga has given you the worst of American cinema with an African face.
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6/10
Was hoping for better
Zoooma18 September 2014
Gangster film from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The story is formulaic and the make-up of the characters is nothing new; stereotypes everywhere you look. But it takes place in Africa's third largest city, Kinshasa, which makes this a peculiar film already. Thugs steal gasoline, thugs try to steal it back. No moral compass whatsoever. You're forced to cheer for a bad guy because there are no good guys. There's plenty of sex which takes away from building a little more depth into the film but fast sex in such a bleak world is part of life in that country. Everything's all about the now and how to survive this life which has been dealt to these people. Some decent performances here and one supremely evil villain made me want to see how it all unfolds in the end. Filmmaking in such lands is not common so that makes this a curiosity to be sure. Not outstanding by any means but definitely worth a watch.

6.1 / 10 stars

--Zoooma, a Kat Pirate Screener
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