South Africa’s former history of apartheid takes a whole new twist in this very intense western-style drama from director Michael Matthews.
During a time of apartheid, the Afrikaners have built the areas known as Roma, Barcelona, and Marseilles. The native Africans were forced to live in a shanty town on a hill near Marseilles known simply as Railway. This being because the native folk worked on the train tracks. When Marseilles became the latest to fall apart, the people of Railway took the blame. Five youths who call themselves the Five Fingers were determined to protect it. That is, until hot-headed member Tau had killed two corrupt Afrikaner policeman, forcing himself to be exiled from the area.
Many years have passed. As Railway has not changed, it is the oppression that has gotten worse as the police have now been replaced by a gang who are hellbent to show the natives who is in charge. After twenty years away from Marseilles, Tau has returned but has become a changed man. No longer has the hot-headed man he once was, the so-called “Lion of Marseilles” decided to live a peaceful life. Reuniting with his old friends, he discovers the town he left behind has only gotten worse and in order to live the peaceful life he desperately wants, Tau will have to make a decision that will change his life forever.
South Africa’s film industry has begun to really flourish as of late, bringing loads of quality productions. For this film, there are shades of apartheid that opens the film, but delves into a power struggle for territory with one man caught in the middle in this film from director Michael Matthews. Sean Drummond’s script brings to life a story about oppression that starts with the Afrikaners forcing the native Africans into a shanty town to fast forward twenty years into a power struggle for the area in an internal conflict.
Kudos goes to lead actor Vuyo Dabula, who plays the returning Tau, who after doing what can be said to be the unspeakable as a teen, had exiled himself. Tau is a great lead character in that he had gone from a hot-headed teenager who is hellbent on stopping the oppression to one who had finally found piece and only wished to go home. However, it is upon his return that things have not only changed, that have gotten worse in the sense that the conflicts are now internal. Some Afrikaners depicted in the film post-prologue are now sympathetic towards the natives, as seen when Tau rescues an Afrikaner man from getting obliterated at a bar. In a bold move, Dabula performed most of his own stunts, which allows him to be a potential action star in the making.
The supporting cast from Zethu Dlomo’s Lerato to Mduduzi Mabaso’s Luyanda help drive the film as some of the film’s twists involve certain characters keeping their views since Tau’s self-imposed exile while others shockingly have embraced the oppression and find themselves having no other choice but to go with the change and thus, disagree with the returning Tau. This leads to the somewhat slow but rightfully developed finale that soon becomes something that comes out of a Western film, full of shootouts and loads of violence and the film even takes a twist in the finale which makes this well worth the watch.
Five Fingers for Marseilles is quite a South African film that melds the western with oppression from both an external piece of history to internal conflict. Vuyo Dabula is definitely a face to look out for as his performance is the driving force of the film.
WFG RATING: B+
Uncork’d Entertainment presents a Be Phat Motel Film Company production in association with Stage 5 Films and Game 7 Films. Director: Michael Matthews. Producers: Asger Hussain, Yaron Schwartzman, Sean Drummond, and Michael Matthews. Writer: Sean Drummond. Cinematography: Shaun Lee. Editing: Daniel Mitchell.
Cast: Vuyo Dabula, Zethu Dlomo, Kenneth Ngosi, Warren Masemola, Mdudizi Mabaso, Jerry Mofokeng, Aubrey Poolo, Lizwi Vilakazi, Hamilton Dhlamani, Dean Fourie, Kenneth Fok, Garth Breytenbach.