SA thriller on tonight

2014-07-22 00:00

IT was director Carey McKenzie’s passion for the story she was writing that convinced actor Tony Kgoroge to sign on to film Cold Harbour.

“I agreed to do it seven years ago, long before there was a film,” the star of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, First Grader and Skin, said.

“I remember Carey had this story from a local paper in Cape Town and she was telling me about it and that she had this idea for a film. I was moved by the passion she had.

“When the script eventually came, she still wanted me to play the lead. It’s really rare for someone to write a role for a specific actor … I feel very lucky.”

McKenzie wrote and directed the thriller, which had its world premiere at the Durban International Film Festival last Sunday.

It tells the story of an ambitious police officer, Sizwe Miya (Kgoroge), who finds himself tested in a world where self-interest and corruption is the norm. He is assigned to investigate when a seasonal south-easterly storm washes up the mutilated body of a Chinese man on a Cape Town beach. He seizes the opportunity to prove himself and earn the promotion that he desperately needs.

Sizwe discovers that the homicide is linked to Triad (Chinese mafia) abalone smuggling in the mother city and soon finds himself being seduced by Chinese shipping executive Soong Mei (Yu Nan — Expendables II), who wants to get information about the case.

He seeks advice from his former struggle-era comrade, Specialist (Fana Mokoena — Man on Groun d, World War Z), who is now a crime boss.

A tip from Specialist leads to a major abalone bust, but Miya’s boss, Venske (Deon Lotz — R oepman, Sleeper’s Wake, Skoonheid), calls Sizwe away from escorting the seized abalone and the shipment is stolen. It’s soon revealed that the whole thing is a set-up. With Venske already on his payroll, Specialist is using Miya as an unwitting ally in a criminal scheme of his own. When Miya refuses to go along with it, his life is threatened and he’s forced to take the law into his own hands.

For his role in Cold Harbour, Kgoroge opted to do his own stunts, even taking on former intercontinental world Muaythai Thai super-middle-weight champion, Quentin Chong.

“I’m a big fan of doing stunts because it is a continuation of your performance. You understand the danger and the pain of falling and you are able to carry those emotions over into the next scene,” he said. “It makes so much sense for the character to go through that danger.”

The actor also loved having the chance to play opposite his close friend Mokoena, Lotz, who starred with him in Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom, and Yu Nan, who he describes as “intense and highly professional”.

“Yu Nan’s English wasn’t that good and I realised how important it was to listen as an actor, both in a scene and outside of it. Listening is a skill and she helped me develop it,” he added.

He also has nothing but praise for McKenzie: “I have worked with someone who has written and directed before. Sometimes people tend to get very emotionally attached to their script and how they want it to come out.”

‘With Carey it was different, which was wonderful. If she was too emotionally attached, she never showed it.”

• Cold Harbour is on at Ster-Kinekor Musgrave tonight at 5.30 pm. The film will be released nationwide on Friday.

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