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Zulu (Orlando Bloom/Forest Whitaker) - DVD Review

Zulu

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THERE’S no explaining why some films are sent straight to DVD or on-demand without so much as a weekend-long cinema berth. But just occasionally, you get some over-looked gems in among those that are.

Jérôme Salle’s Zulu is one such gem. A crime thriller set in South Africa, this finds two detectives Ali Sokhela and Brian Epkeen (Whitaker and Bloom) tasked with investigating the murder of a young girl who has been brutally beaten to death on a Cape Town beach.

However, what begins as a routine murder inquiry, soon finds the duo digging deeper into the dangerous territory of underground pharmaceutical companies and inadvertently trying to take on some of the biggest names in South African crime.

Several things mark Salle’s film out as worthy of attention. First and foremost, the striking South African backdrops lend it a distinct visual style that’s eye-catching in the way that it frequently offsets striking natural beauty with ugly human violence.

The scars that are still worn by many Africans from Apartheid-era atrocities also play a big part in the story, especially in the character of Whitaker, while attitudes to drugs and the way in which gangs now adopt a more gung-ho attitude towards combating the police are also relevant.

Hence, the violence in the film is unflinching and often extreme. It’s as ugly as it needs to be and lends the thriller extra edge. You’ll gasp in places.

And another reason for watching is the central performance from Bloom, here beefed up and sporting a convincing South African accent. It’s a bullish performance of striking intensity that, while certainly mired in a certain cop cliché, nevertheless offers the actor the chance to show a different side to his make-up that is as thrilling as it is eye-opening. He and Whitaker (displaying typical intelligence and sensitivity) make a formidable partnership at the core of the film to also make it stand out.

All told, Zulu is a gutsy, solid thriller.

Certificate: 18
Running time: tbc
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: April 27, 2015