<Movie Details
8 July 2010

If you thought that the wasp-in-the-eardum racket of the vuvuzela was one of the worst things to come out of modern South Africa then check out the subjects of this vicious gangsta drama.

We follow two happy-go-lucky young Sowetans - Lucky Kunene and his best buddy Zakes - as they attempt to claw their way out of their seething township.

When Lucky loses the chance to go to college, they opt for a decade of minor crime - from hijacking cars to driving an illegal taxi to make their way until former ANC soldier Nazareth (Sekele) takes them under his criminal wing.

However, following a botched ram-raid, in which Nazareth is badly wounded, Lucky has a criminal epiphany...and sets himself up as the chief executive of a housing association which turfs hookers and drug dealers out of decrepit apartment blocks and takes them over.

To some, he's "South Africa's Robin Hood"...but to others - the slum landlords he's dispossessed and the drug gangs he's sent packing - he's the "Hoodlum of Hillbrow", the run-down area where he (crime) lords it over his kingdom.

Writer/director Ziman demonstrates that post-apartheid South Africa was far from a land of opportunity for poor young blacks desperate to leave behind the squalid shacks of Soweto.

It's a sort of mashup between Scarface and Slumdog Millionaire with Ziman neatly sketching in a world of contrasts from drug-filled urban life to the calm suburbia of middle-class housing estates.

The dialogue confusingly switches between South African patois and English, and Ziman could have cut the almost two-hour running time.

Nevertheless, it's a rich portrait made all the more worrying by apparently being based on actual events.

Alex Critchley

Do the Americans make the best gangster thrillers? Discuss this review on our Facebook page and Twitter stream.

Read more Sky Movies film reviews here