Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema

"Very Good"

Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema Review


Bold, energetic and extremely complicated, this epic thriller is an eye-opening exploration of how a warped free-market turned Johannesburg into the crime capital of the world. It's long and exhausting, but strikingly well-made.

Lucky Kunene (Mamabolo then Seiphemo) grew up in poverty in Soweto with his pal Zakes (Mahloko then Nyakale). Usually in trouble for something minor, local criminal Nazareth (Zekele) takes them under his wing and teaches them more serious stuff, which they take to naturally. But Lucky's conscience keeps getting the best of him, and he eventually ends up in Johannesburg, where being the victim of a crime inspires him to combine charity with money-making. As he builds an empire as a "property developer", he makes enemies on both sides of the law.

As the story progresses, two nemeses emerge who challenge Lucky's position. And that's not including his disapproving, deeply religious mother. On one side is the tenacious Detective Swart (Hobbs), still stinging from his loss of power as a white cop, not that he defers to anyone. On the other is a Nigerian drug dealer (Shenjana) who is like a stain on Lucky's efforts to make life better for the poor city residents.

And it's this disparity that becomes the most interesting thing about the film: the way Lucky is actually trying to do something good and challenge the callous slumlords who leave the buildings to rot. On the other hand, he is also making rather a lot of illicit cash through this scheme, enough to attract an upscale Jewish girlfriend (Meskin). In other words, Lucky isn't a bad guy, even though his methods bend the law to the breaking point. But his friends indulge in rather a lot more brutality.

The fact that we root for him without being supportive of his methods makes watching the film a charged experience. Writer-director Ziman fills the screen with snappy visuals, high-energy action and the constant threat of violence.

The shifting alliances between the characters are powerfully gripping, and even if some local knowledge is needed to understand the film's subtleties, it's a revelatory look into a complex society. And perhaps at Africa's real future.



Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema

Facts and Figures

Genre: Foreign

Run time: 119 mins

In Theaters: Friday 29th August 2008

Distributed by: Anchor Bay Films

Production compaines: Muti Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 75%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.8 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Ralph Ziman

Producer: Ralph Ziman, Tendeka Matatu

Starring: Daniel Buckland as Josh Freidlander, as Inspector Blakkie Swart, as Lucky Kunene, Jeffrey Zekele as Nazareth, Ronnie Nyakale as Zakes Mbolelo, Shelley Meskin as Leah Friedlander (as Shelly Meskin), Malusi Skenjana as Tony Ngu, Jafta Mamabolo as Young Kunene, Motlatsi Mahloko as Young Zakes, Kenneth Nkosi as Lucas Sithole, Lerato Moloi as Loretta Dlamini, Thandy Matlaila as Young Nomsa, Mzwandile Ngubeni as Young Bull, Gladys Mahlangu as Mama Kunene

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.