It may well be one of the greatest crime epics I’ve seen in some time, but Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema, which the folks out at Anchor Bay sent me a copy of to review, will prove to both make me laugh and put me to the edge of my seat. It’s fantastic stuff, and I’m happy to be able to recommend it to you.
Think of it as Scarface: South Africa and you won’t be too far off. Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema follows Lucky Kunene, a young man who started out idealistic, but after discovering that the world is hardly kind to poor young men from the middle of nowhere, branched out into crime. Starting off slow, but quickly escalating, he goes straight temporarily after almost dying in a botched store robbery. But when he becomes the victim of the same kinds of crimes he once committed, he decides he needs a whole new route, and thus decides to get ORGANIZED. And his organization ends up not only making large portions of his area a better place for people to live, it also makes him rich. Naturally, this doesn’t sit well with those who favor the status quo, and thus he’s hounded on all sides by cops and criminals alike.
There’s an old saying that, when crime is sufficiently organized, it isn’t even against the law. And watching Lucky Kunene steal more money and property with a pen and a briefcase than he ever did with an AK-47 and handgun is a downright thrill. But Lucky Kunene is no sadistic psychopath of a gangster–if anything, he resembles the old Prohibition-era mobsters, the sort who would be willing to sit and have a quiet drink with you because you lived in the neighborhood rather than the sort who took everything you owned because you were in the way.
The plot is very well put together, rapidly paced, with plenty of trouble for Kunene that he often manages to overcome not by superior firepower but by superior intellect. And the cast does an excellent job of keeping the pace going as well. This is great stuff, and though it will indeed be full of violence, nudity and harsh language, the end result is one well worth watching.
The Screenhead Ten Scale gives Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema a nine out of ten–they did a terrific job with this and should be rewarded accordingly.