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Hard to Get
Genre Action

Hard to Get echoes a similar passion and energy to the acclaimed Congolese crime thriller, Viva Riva. It's arguably South Africa's best action movie ever, powered by a similar sweaty, sexy and dangerous intensity on the back of world-class production values and surprisingly mature film-making for a number of feature film debuts.

We're blasted into a quick-paced action romance crime thriller in the style of Bonnie & Clyde as Skiets, a tough streetwise beauty, and TK, a self-professed ladykiller go on-the-run after stealing a local hoodlum Mugza's prized vehicle. After Skiets appears at a local township tavern on the arm of Mugza, TK steps in to help before the two find themselves on the road to Jozi.

Hard to Get grabs you from the get-go, brandishing great bit characters at every turn, with two incredibly charming co-leads. The unrequited chemistry between Skiets and TK is what fuels the burning romance at play. Skiets is not just another conquest for TK, which underlines the movie title as an on-the-run thriller and a play-by-play romance. At first, you imagine the subtext may be some sort of abstinence propaganda, which would be refreshing, but those thoughts fade soon enough.

Pallance Dladla was part of the crew that brought us Donovan Marsh's Reservoir Dogs style iNumber Number. Dladla's a handsome fellow, completely believable as a player and instantly likable as our hero. While we see things from his perspective, this is really the Thishiwe Ziqubu Show. Skiets is a strong female character, refreshingly so, and while they share equal billing - we know who's really calling the shots.

Dladla is a love fool, inadvertently falling for a seemingly unattainable woman, who draws him into her mysterious world. That enigmatic, unexplained spirit is what makes Ziqubu attractive and compelling. She's a drifter, living each day as it comes with a sense of wind-directed purpose. The two deliver fine and charming co-lead performances, which propel the action-adventure as they bounce from one boss to another.

Israel Makoe is quickly becoming the go-to gangster of South African cinema and with good reason. As an ex-gangster he has the chops, knows the lingo and can sell each part with great conviction. Having played prominent roles in Tsotsi, Four Corners, iNumber Number and now Hard to Get... he's a poster boy for South African crime drama thrillers. His sledgehammer size and strong presence is felt in Hard to Get as an intimidating, relentless and strangely comical hoodlum, Mugza.

Paka Zwedala is quite beautifully cast as Gumede, the wealthy businessman, who like a shark enters the fray with a bump. It's a quietly powerful performance that embodies Gumede's devious scheming, always plotting a couple of chess moves ahead of his opponent. The emphatic Jerry Mofokeng plays the bar owner Greezy, as yet another spirited and colourful character, adding some experience to an already strong ensemble.

The quickfire editing from Nick Costaros, Chris Letcher's driving urban soundtrack and Thuso Sibisi's snappy script support Zee Ntuli's slick vision for this gritty actioner. From dusty township back streets to the neon lights of downtown Joburg, Tom Marais adds weight and consistency and cinematic flair. We're wrapped up in the charm, wit and chemistry of the characters; entertained by the oily mix of tough action, offbeat comedy and unexpected horror; and fascinated by the snappy Bonnie & Clyde antics of our smooth criminal duo.

The nutty and lovable characters seem to exist in their own Wild West microcosm of South Africa, a law unto themselves. The lack of police presence and some more motivation for the hedonistic and reckless behaviour of our heroes would have added more weight to Hard to Get. Yet, these factors seem a little petty and ungrateful against the film's far-reaching strengths.

Hard to Get relies on subtitles, making the prospect of another Hollywood style remake seem inevitable. It's promising to see such a high-calibre action romance film emerging from South Africa. This is a must-see, the sort of movie that will capture the imagination of budding SA film-makers. It showcases what's possible, harnesses the genre in a fresh way and will contribute to changing the face of South African cinema.

The bottom line: Edgy


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