Metascore
53

Mixed or average reviews - based on 8 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 8
  2. Negative: 1 out of 8
  1. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Jul 1, 2011
    80
    The results are startlingly original, if occasionally overambitious. This is "Tsotsi" without the feel-good glow, a tale of entrepreneurship's perils and boundless pleasures.
  2. Reviewed by: Mike Hale
    Jul 1, 2011
    70
    Between Mr. Ziman's music-video skills and his close approximation of the kinetic style of Michael Mann (a scene from Mr. Mann's "Heat" has a key role in the plot), it's easy to overlook the formulas and just enjoy the ride.
  3. Reviewed by: Michelle Orange
    Jul 1, 2011
    60
    The film is so busy rifling through genres that it fails to develop a coherent flavor of its own.
  4. Reviewed by: Ed Schied
    Jul 1, 2011
    60
    Documents the development of a crime lord from his beginnings in petty childhood activities. Fresh details enliven a conventional story arc. This absorbing view of urban decay has the potential to draw audiences beyond the arthouse.
  5. Reviewed by: V.A. Musetto
    Jul 1, 2011
    50
    The opening credits of Gangster's Paradise note that it was "inspired by real events." It would be more accurate to say that the film was inspired by Brian De Palma's "Scarface" and similar fare.
  6. Reviewed by: Nick Schager
    Jul 1, 2011
    50
    There's minor amusement in the suggestion that entrepreneurial criminality begins with a preference for Donald Trump's "The Art of the Deal" over the Bible.
  7. Reviewed by: Robert Abele
    Jul 1, 2011
    50
    The whole effort is undermined by an abundance of mob-movie cliches.
  8. Reviewed by: Joe Neumaier
    Jul 1, 2011
    20
    Has raw action and urgent performances, but loses power due to an amateur approach.
User Score
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No user score yet- Awaiting 2 more ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Feb 25, 2011
    6
    The end of apartheid wasn't the end of South Africa's problems. If you were young and black you were free, but that didn't mean opportunities were open to you. As the film opens we such a person, the school graduate Lucky Kunene, who wants to study at university. Doors may be open but funding isn't, leading Kunene into a life of crime. As a fully-grown man and fully-fledged gangster, Kunene (Seiphemo, excellent) is, the film seems to be saying, little more than a businessman and a survivor. He doesn't just steal, he steals big (in this case, entire buildings) but when he reaches the pinnacle, his question seems to be: what next?

    And that's where things begin to go wrong not just for him but for the film. In Kunene's search for both love and approval (a de facto form of acceptance from a society in which he is an outsider), a tough, gritty, often extremely entertaining gangster drama jettisons its thoughtful, finely wrought first act and skillfully handled midsection to mawkish melodrama and, later, extremely questionable morality, taking a first-rate South African film and turning it into a Hollywood formula picture. It's still entertaining on the whole, but what a shame it didn't quit while it was ahead, or at least admit it was as lost as its main character, and â
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