Hamilton Dlamini steals the show in Five Fingers for Marseilles

Five Fingers for Marseilles
Director: Michael Matthews
Stars: Vuyo Dabula, Hamilton Dlamini, Warren Masemola
Four stars 

Set during the apartheid era, the rural community of Railway – closely connected to the small town of Marseilles – is one of the many townships terrorised by an aggressive and oppressive police force. In retaliation, a young group of vigilantes called the Five Fingers become freedom fighters.

Then, tragedy strikes and the volatile Tau (Vuyo Dabula) flees after murdering two police officers in an unplanned crime of passion.

Twenty years later, Tau is determined to live a life without conflict and returns home with a wish to reconnect with those he left behind. Unfortunately, he finds Marseilles in the grip of a vicious new threat and knows he must fight again.

With its involving characters and gripping plot, this action-drama is a welcome departure from many South African films that follow a dull storyline with two-dimensional characters who lack growth or substance.

A particularly noteworthy performance comes from Hamilton Dlamini, who is known for his role as Mnqobi Simelane in the e.tv series Umlilo.

Dlamini portrays a haunting character who is comfortable as antagonist Sepoko, the cruel and volatile ringleader of a gang. Sepoko is dangerously wise, cunning, calculated and effective, and he has robbed the reigns of power from the hands of the mayor of Marseilles (Kenneth Nkosi).

Aside from the well-knit ensemble cast, audiences will appreciate the high production value of the film. The north Eastern Cape landscape is gorgeously captured by director of photography Shaun Harley Lee, and the authentic Basotho/Western theme is stylishly helmed by Michael Matthews.

Written in English by bright screenwriter Sean Drummond, the thriller is rooted in the local language, which should be much appreciated by a South African audience.

Mamokuena Makhema, who came on board as a translator and cultural adviser, ensures the dialogue in Sesotho captures the poetry and depth of the original script. Makhema’s influence adds an irreplaceable authenticity and wonder to the total package.

Five Fingers for Marseilles is a true spectacle. Alongside the blood, guts and gore that abounds in the town of Marseilles that director Matthews created, the powerful script and the undisputed raw emotions displayed by the stellar cast make the film one for the history books.

This is a trailblazer – a film that will set local productions on a different road to success.

Sepoko (Hamilton Dlamini) is the cruel and volatile ringleader of a gang. (Photo: Supplied, Stage 5 Films)