The lines of morality plague a cop in South Africa in this action-drama from filmmaker Donovan Marsh.
After a two-year operation, South African police officer Chili Ncgobo and his partners Shoes have finally made the bust of a lifetime. However, when it comes time for the reward for the bust, both cops learn that their superior Captain Stone has decided to keep the reward for himself as he feels he deserves all the credit. This angers Chili, who felt risking his life for two years mean absolutely nothing. However, a tip to join in a heist to be run by criminal Mambane may give them a chance at giving themselves a new life. While Chili decides to join in, Shoes does not.
However, the decision forces the two best friends to argue. When Chili joins the gang, he learns too late that Shoes has been busted and soon Chili must realize that he must infiltrate the gang. They consist of Skroef, Thulani, Slim, Afrikaner Warren, Cape Town native Stakes and his girlfriend Gugu. When there is the possibility that someone in the gang may in fact be a cop, all traces are erased and Chili comes up with the idea of doing the heist earlier than expected, the following day. When the heist goes down and Shoes is kidnapped and trapped in a container, secrets are revealed that all lead to a showdown both external and internal.
This South African action film from Donovan Marsh has perhaps an influence of the Quentin Tarentino film Reservoir Dogs, yet it is more about the struggles of morality for the protagonist Chili, a cop who resorts to crossing the line due to corruption within precinct. While one expects loads of action and this film does deliver in that department, it’s more of a story of how far one will go to set things right. Chili, played well by S’Dumo Mtshali, is interesting is that he feels conflicted throughout the film. From being denied the big reward to possibly getting a bigger reward to finding himself in the long run makes for quite an interesting character study and while some may wonder what side is he really on, but it all makes sense by the finale.
The supporting characters are a combination that shows a bit of tension, both racial and emotional. Shoes, Chili’s best friend and partner, also feels conflicted when Chili decides to go ahead and join the gang for the bank heist. The gang themselves are a combination of many types within South Africa. It is clear that the native Africans have issues when it comes to someone from Cape Town (Stakes, played by Brendon Daniels) and shows a little respect for the Boer of the group (Warren, played by Brandon Auret). The leader of the gang, Mambame, is convinced of who the informer of the gang is, but shows sympathy towards the real informer of the group.
While the characters drive the film, the action is not too bad. However, some of the action itself can be somewhat stomach-churning. The reason is that at times, Marsh results to using a hand-held camera for shots and in the case of some running chase scenes, it may have the feel as if you are running with the person you are seeing. However, if you have a weak stomach, you may want to close your eyes during at least those areas. The rest of the action is not too bad, consisting of gunfights, a nice Sam Peckinpah-inspired car chase, and the finale, which is played out like a maze filled with standoffs and secrets revealed and a game of cat-and-mouse all rolled up into one.
Avenged is actually a pretty decent South African action drama about one man’s morality being questioned in a melee full of chaos as he is forced to choose sides in a deadly heist.
WFG RATING: B
A Quizzical Films production. Director: Donovan Marsh. Producers: Harriet Gavshon and J.P. Potgieter. Writer: Donovan Marsh. Cinematography: Tom Marais. Editing: Donovan Marsh
Cast: S’Dumo Mtshali, Presley Chweneyagae, Owen Sejake, Israel Makoe, Pallance Dladla, Daniel Hadebe, Brandon Auret, Warren Masemola, Percy Matsemala, Brendon Daniels, Hlubi Mboya, Carlo Radebe, Ronnie Nyakele.