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Feb 25, 2011The 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… Expand