Umbango

When Kay Kay, a powerful, ruthless businessman sets out on a mission of revenge against two men accused of killing his brother, he strong-arms the local sheriff into forming a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta. But when Jet and Owen, the two easy going friends, learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to ...more

When Kay Kay, a powerful, ruthless businessman sets out on a mission of revenge against two men accused of killing his brother, he strong-arms the local sheriff into forming a posse of thugs to aid in his vendetta. But when Jet and Owen, the two easy going friends, learn of the gang out for their blood, they prepare to stand their ground and fight back. It all comes to a head in a final gun-fight, a showdown in the small western town where blood will have to be spilt if the friends wish to come out of this alive.

Movie Details

BIGSTAR Review

"I want you to know, 'Ladies Man', that if you want to win a girl, you have to take a bath." ~JACK (Popo Gumede) to Mcwabe's top henchman Jake, after he tosses him in the horses' water trough following a very one-sided bout of fisticuffs; all because Jake went and got a little too fresh with Ms. Molly, who is JACK's girl.

We here at BIGSTAR MOVIES, in conjunction with our blackfilm.com channel, are proud to present the worldwide streaming premiere of the South African apartheid-era film, UMBANGO (a.k.a. THE FEUD). This long lost Tonie van der Merwe western was one of his 400 films which he made during South Africa's "apartheid media indoctrination" period from 1972-1989, where over 2,000 isiZulu films were produced from a government controlled film fund. It was intended to create films for a black audience that would encourage more subdued, lawful behavior as well as providing lessons in morale for anyone choosing to engage in public dissonance. Many of these pictures used non-professional actors, and were pumped out within a week, usually copying the framework of either an existing Clint Eastwood "spaghetti western" or a James Bond film. So it was with that VERY mindset that van der Merwe made UMBANGO in 1986... and now here we are, subscribers! Look, I'll be frankly honest; this is a film that has its detractors and flaws. There are scenes that go on aimlessly, acting that's overly ham-fisted, and a few soundtrack choices that prove epic failures (at least to MY ears, anyway). That being addressed, the film has some fabulous dichotomies as far as characters go, even though it may be due to a "happy accident". The film starts off with the campfire meeting of two characters, Jake and KK Mcwabe. Though the dialogue is mostly stale, the introduction actually plays warm and inviting, as Jake stumbles onto the campsite of KK while on the trail, and they befriend one another. At this point, without knowing anything about the film, you'd never expect that within 10 more minutes of screen time they'd be revealed as the film's top two antagonists! KK basically asks Jake to come onboard as his lackey (for good pay, of course), and they continue traveling to the western town of...Emasondweni? Yeah, so anyway, that's the town that KK just happens to hold the deed to in his pocket. The reason he has it: his brother George left it to him in his will, and George was recently shot by Jack and Owen (well, mostly Jack) , two ranch hands who claim it was in self-defense. The thing is, it's never explained WHY exactly Jack shot George, just that Jack constantly repeats to everyone in a cocksure attitude, "I had no choice, I was just protecting myself." In fact, he says it so many times, you wonder about his sincerity, and Owen sort of gives off a guilty vibe too. Most likely it's lack of training for this film's actors, but it also could read as different subtext all together: could Jack and Owen be the real "Baddies" of the film?? A well written villain never TRULY believes their cause is unjustified or immoral, but rather just plain essential. It's not likely the case here, but just watch and judge for yourself because it makes for rather a fun dynamic.

This film received some long overdue festival exposure this past year when it had a special screening at Germany's Forum 65th Berlinale. Popo Gumede is easily the strongest actor of the whole lot, and the "Jack and Jake" chemistry is an adamant echo to the characters of Blondie and Tuco in Sergio Leone's THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY. In the approaching months, we here at BIGSTAR will be uncovering even more of these South African film gems for our subscribers. UMBANGO (a.k.a. THE FEUD) is truly a historically significant motion picture we are honored to release from the starting gate of one of our newly expanded platform channels, blackfilm.com, so please enjoy!

-Steve

Ratings

  • Cinematography & Editing
  • Musical Score & Sound
  • Stories & Script
  • Acting
  • Directing
76
Overall BIGSTAR Score.
Scores range from 10-100
BIGSTAR Approved!

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