Ambushed (South Africa, 1988)

A game ranger takes on a rebel military group in this B-Scheme film from South African legend Tonie van der Merwe.

A band of military rebels have come to town with a cache of weapons. They decide to camp out near a game farm. When Neo, a young boy, heads to school, he is kidnapped by one of the rebels. Meanwhile, the game ranger in charge of the farm has been awaiting news on the rebels in case they arrive near their farm. As he and his assistant decide to trek out the area, Neo narrowly escapes from the kidnapper and runs to his mom Zanele.

The rebels scope out the area and find both Neo and Zanele. However, the rebels are about to get in serious trouble. The reason is because Neo’s father and Zanele’s husband is the game farmer whose property they have just trespassed. Together with his fellow ranger, the hero has one thing on his mind. He must rescue his family and put an end to the rebels before it’s too late.

From the legendary South African filmmaker who created the B-Scheme era of the country’s film industry, Tonie van der Merwe brings audiences this standard action tale of a pair of game rangers who go up against a band of military rebels. The film is mostly dialogue driven and the action is pretty 80’s movie standard, but still worth watching because of the industry’s rich history of this era.

Two of van der Merwe’s usual collaborators, Innocent “Popo” Gumede and Hector Mathanda take center stage as the central rivals. Gumede, who is the B-Scheme equivalent of Richard Roundtree, Fred Williamson, and Jim Brown to name a few, is the game ranger who must rescue his family. On the other hand, Mathanda, usually known for his comic shtick, takes a more serious route in the role of the rebel leader who makes a big mistake of entering our hero’s farm and kidnapping his family.

A lot of the film, which runs at 68 minutes, is dialogue driven as there are constantly juxtaposing between the rebels and the ranger for most of the first act of the film. It becomes the setup for the action which starts with the son’s kidnapping. However, he does escape and while the rangers work together to stop the rebels, there is mostly dialogue with him and his mom talking as the rangers try to stop the rebels. It is when the rebels kidnap both wife and son, that’s when the film picks up in terms of its action.

Ambushed may be viewed by a general populace as a run of the mill action film with mostly dialogue. However, it is a part of an era that was virtually unknown to the world until nearly a decade ago. Another important film of the B-Scheme era of South African cinema.

WFG RATING: C

Gravel Road Entertainment and Bayeta Films presents a Taurus Films production. Director: Tonie van der Merwe. Producer: Phillip Oliver. Writer: Tonie van der Merwe. Cinematography: Tonie van der Merwe. Editing: Carl Bleakley.

Cast: Innocent “Popo” Gumede, Hector Mathanda, Kay Magubane, Siyabonga Mcube, Ngcebo Zungo.

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