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Zulu movie (no, not Rorke's Drift!)

Movies; Cape Town; Thriller

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#1 pault


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Posted 06 June 2015 - 07:51 AM

I am going to turn film reviewer for a day. I had a tough week and it seems like a relaxing thing to do.

Just mentioning this because it is probably going to be doing the rounds on TV soon (if not already in some countries) and with its title you'll probably think it is the movie about the battle at Rorke's Drift. In fact it is a French thriller with a couple of Hollywood stars set in South Africa and Namibia.

It appears to have gone straight to DVD in many places after making the mistake of launching itself at Cannes and getting a bit panned - it's not really a Cannes movie, despite the thread of the Apartheid past that runs (sometimes clumsily) through it.

It's of interest because of the setting in Cape Town and later in the Namibian desert, but the Cape Town cinematography is its standout feature.And coming to it like I did, without expectations, it's a rather good detective thriller overall. There is a strong aroma of Chinatown noir, run through with essence of conspiracy thriller, with occasional but persistent and incongruous bouquets of bog standard Hollywood low budget action movie, the Rockford Files uncut, and even Hallmark.

South Africans may well have a differnt perspective, but for the occasional visitor the South African characters are convincing, despite a cartoonish baddie, who thankfully doesn't have too much screen time. Orlando Bloom is surprisingly convincing as a South African detective with "issues", despite being persistently handicapped by sometimes cringeworthy scenes featuring cliched whiskey bottles, ex-wives who still love him really, estranged sons, and cultured women throwing themselves at what must be very smelly feet. He rides through it all like a champ and if you swore never to watch a Holllywood star playing a white South African again after Leonardo DiCaprio's turn in Blood Diamond, come back and give it one more try. Orlando should convince as far south as Southern Tanzania - beyond that I suspect there might be problems. Forest Whitaker is Forest Whitaker and after an iffy start is very good in his interactions with the actual Africans in the film - although I have no idea how his isiZulu is, it's a nice and ambitious touch that he mixes that (well I assume it is that, since he is the Zulu of the title) with Afrikaans and English.

I only got the DVD because the salesperson in the shop pressed it on me and it seemed like a sign as there is no reason I could think of why she would think this non-hit would be sellable to me, unless she thought for some reason I looked like I would be interested in the Orlando Blloom nude scene or the rather graphic violence (although the violence is not exceptional by today's standards). Maybe it is one of those Big in Asia things, but I seriously doubt it. The Gods They Must Be Crazy is the only African-set movie I can think of that was big here, as it kind of inadvertently fitted nicely with the existing prejudices that made Darkie brand toothpaste such a hit. I would probably still have resisted the offer it it hadn't been very cheap! But it's actually pretty good and it does have a certain African vibe - rather what I would expect a truly good South African film industry to produce. Possibly one of the better South African thrillers out there, even though it's French!

Edited by pault, 06 June 2015 - 07:55 AM.

  • madaboutcheetah and twaffle like this

Waiting again... for the next time again

#2 Bush dog

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Posted 06 June 2015 - 12:15 PM

As a film enthousiast, I do have the DVD at home.  I read the book, written by Caryl Ferey, a few years ago and found it very good.  The scenario of the film was written by the author of the book.  So that, the film respects precisely the book.  A good movie, indeed! 

#3 madaboutcheetah


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Posted 12 June 2015 - 03:07 PM

Paul and Mike, I'm going to look out for this one ....... Thanks!


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