SK Olympics – The Bang Bang Club – Johannesburgh, South Africa


Welcome back little kickers! If you were here yesterday you’ll have read that today’s feature is a review from South Africa, namely Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger. To be honest I mentioned it yesterday because I didn’t want to shock Zoe. It’s never a good idea to surprise a South African in the middle of the night. Zoe has provided me with a review of SA movie The Bang Bang Club. Which to my disappointment isn’t a movie about Jacob Zuma’s sex life. I’ll shut up now. Read the review. It’s very good.


Screenkicker Olympics – Johannesburg, South Africa

The Bang Bang Club review by Zoe from The Sporadic Chronicles of a Beginner Blogger

South Africa! Yes, it is now our time to shine… we are more than gold medal Olympian winners shooting up their girlfriends and translators embarrassing the crap out of us at important funerals… we have the time to shine here! We are the land of presidential fire pools, tax evasion, some of the most insane strikes of all time and delicious braais. We are the best equipped country for a zombie apocalypse (not kidding). I see that the rest of the world is popping up with their respective entries, and I can guarantee you have better films to choose from, but when I thought back on some of the movies that I could use for this segment in the Screenkicker Olympics, I decided that this one was going to be the best depiction. To show that it is not all that bad… Without further waffling, let’s talk about The Bang-Bang Club.

the bang bang club poster

“They’re right. All those people who say it’s our job to just sit and watch people die. They’re right.”
– Kevin Carter

A drama based on the true-life experiences of four combat photographers capturing the final days of apartheid in South Africa. (IMDB)

Disclaimer: Mikey, I am sorry, this movie is not even remotely about what the title may suggest, so whatever you are thinking, forget it!

Now, let’s start with the fact that this is the first time I have actually heard a foreigner successfully pull off a South African accent (oh my gosh – really?!). I think Ryan Phillipe deserves immense amounts of credit for that. He slips up occasionally, but more often than not you could overlook the fact that he is not local. Point two, the movie tackles some serious history of ours and I think they did a pretty damn good job of bringing it to the screen. It was awesome to see landmarks that are truly South African, as well as our streets, townships and bars, and, God forbid, Frisco coffee chilling on the counters. What also sells this movie and the story is that the supporting actors and actresses are actually South Africans, so they fit right in and lend authenticity to the story.

bang bang club run for your hsot

The photojournalists that are looked at in the movie are some heavyweight Pulitzer Prize winning guys (mostly), and the movie focuses on how they came to be the group that they are as well as some of the totally crazy things that they did together to get the shots, the types of lives that they lived. They were Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillipe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) and João Silva (Neels van Jaarsveld).The movie was amazing in the sense that the photos that were taken and published, the big famous ones, the scenes depicting how they came to be were just fantastically done; you could almost immediately see what it was. Now, I am not overly familiar with the stories of the photographers involved because I was a rugrat when all this was going down, but it looks like it was done relatively well. For all the political focus that one would expect from this film it is greatly overlooked, which is a big reason that this feels a little hollow at times. Watching how cruel and crass these men were to get their shots is also a difficult watch: a man is being murdered or a woman has lost her home and is in total pain and the only thought to cross your mind is “I need that shot”… that is a blunt and callous way to live, in my opinion.

bang bang club shot greg

Thankfully, though, the callousness is addressed later on in the film, which was a relief. It lent more realism to it, because watching something like that there is always the moral question that is lingering. Malin Åkerman portrays Robin Comley, who later goes on to be Greg’s lover, but starts off with going out of her way to ensure that the grotesque and brutal photos the men take get published one way or another. Åkerman and Phillipe work well together, though there are times where their scenes just don’t flow too great, but overall they managed well. It was very interesting to see the townships, the old police as well as how things went down then, though the movie really did focus on the photographers more than the actual events, as well as just giving us enough of the events to understand the horror and brutality as well as a vehicle in which to carry the photos that were birthed from it. I believe that this movie did not make it particularly huge overseas and had a ridiculously small release, which is a pity because it is worth looking into. This movie also captured a lot of what South Africa is and how the people are here, as well as some of the issues we face (being a lot more underdeveloped than the bigger first world countries out there as well as the stigma of racism that lingers ever after the fact, something I wish would just… start coming right). It showed the transition that South Africa went through prior to the fall of apartheid and the rise of the new regime (which, incidentally, is not working out as well as we would have hoped), the attitudes to one another, etc.

the bang bang club publishing

Whoop! There you have my contribution to the Screenkicker Olympics. South Africa had to be represented, and if no one was going to do it, then I most certainly was!

Thanks Zoe, a really enlightening review about a fascinating subject. And not a prawn in sight, i’m disappointed. Tune in tomorrow for a special Israeli review from everyone’s favourite movie review human production line. You know who I’m talking about 😉


  1. “we are more than gold medal Olympian winners shooting up their girlfriends and translators embarrassing the crap out of us at important funerals… ”

    LOL – every morning I turn on the news and hear Pistorious crying his balls off and moaning ‘yes, my lady’. I’ve been meaning to ask you about it….


    • Lol I am so glad you are entertained haha!

      Oh dear soul you have no idea, it’s everywhere! His defense attorney? Crazy crackpot! You must see the jokes going viral here about the whole debacle. Every time I hear him cry I just wanna bitch him hahaha. We shall discuss this in more detail sometime. Even Stephen King bitched about it recently. I love that man.


  2. I still haven’t seen this… and I owe Mikey a review of District 9 to further represent our homeland. Bet he didn’t count on two South Africans!


  3. Ahah, no prawn in sight, I was thinking the same thing 😀

    I’ve never heard of this one Zoe, funny but I had just finished a review starring Taylor Kitsch too, ahah.


    • Anytime! I can understand, when it was popped into the machine I almost revolted, there were so many other and more appealing things to watch, then this turned out to be pretty good!


  4. WE will not be scaring Zoe in the night, hell NO!!!
    Good review Zoe as always! This morning as I was driving to work they were announcing the Pulitzer Prize winners and I swear I thought about this movie. I really liked this movie as well and I am glad to hear that it was realistic from a South African’s point of view.


    • Please don’t… I take it pretty seriously and have a big gun stashed under my bed!

      Thank you! I am SO glad to hear someone has seen this and enjoyed it, too!


      • Yes that’s what I thought when I read it. WOW someone else saw this and liked it too. You should do some more reviews on movies based in South Africa… I find that history fascinating and would like to see your viewpoint since you are from there. Have you seen or read Cry the Beloved Country?


          • The book is really good, I took a South African lit class back in the day and I loved it. I think you would like it, the book is better than the movie (as usual). There’s another book I really liked I have been searching Google all morning, thanks Zoe see what you do to me and I can’t find it. But when I do I will tell u. 🙂


  5. Haven’t seen this one either, Zoe. Seems to be a trend with your reviews. It just hit my list, though. Great review.

    And, Mikey, movie-review human production line . . . yeah . . . that’s a good way to describe him . . .


  6. Thanks a lot Mikey, I really enjoyed this! Though I must say… you just HAD to put those blasted vuvuzelas in there at some point right?! Those, too, could get you shot, just by the way.


    • FFS I cannot win, this phone just put through the comment I originally typed up but the signal kept bombing, never closed the browser. Nice. Just nice. I do apologise.


  7. Really glad you reviewed this! I’ve read the book–which I really enjoyed (though it was definitely disturbing)–and I didn’t know they had made a movie out of it. Glad to hear it’s good! Will watch soon.


  8. Sounds like such an interesting film! Love a bit of Ryan Philippe. It’s rare for people to get the South African accent right so it’s good to hear that he doesn’t completely butcher it! As for that Pistorius fool, what an idiot.


  9. Pleased to read something from S.A., this is fascinating. Nice stuff Zoe. And until Mikey’s comment at the very end there i had completely forgotten about district 9 mostly taking place near Johannesburg! lol


Leave a Reply, go on, don't make me come over there

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s