Knuckle City

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Bongile Mantsai in Knuckle City.
Bongile Mantsai in Knuckle City.
Photo: Showmax


Knuckle City




3/5 Stars


Mdantsane township is South Africa's boxing mecca. There, Dudu Nyakama, a down and out ageing boxer, struggles to fight the one match that he believes will change his life. Contending that the underbelly of the boxing world is rife with criminality, Dudu unwittingly enlists the help of his reckless but resourceful, gangster brother who’s coming out of jail. Haunted by the ghost of their father, Dudu soon finds that the fight at home is far more challenging than any opponent he can possibly face in the ring.


Jahmil X.T. Qubeka's dark boxing thriller is an assault on all the senses. It packs a punch that will make you feel like you've just gone ten rounds in a boxing ring yourself.

Set in Mdantsane, South Africa's boxing Mecca – and also Jahmil's hometown – it has been labelled as our first boxing movie.

I have never experienced a movie like this before. It is raw, violent and gives a slice of township life that we've never seen before.

The main character is deeply flawed and not your typical sports movie 'hero'. Dudu (played by Bongile Mantsai) is a womaniser who is haunted by the ghost of his father, and while he is trying to do better by his family, he is continually being beaten down not only in the ring but also in life.

The story is fast-paced, giving the viewer little time to breathe and take things in before moving on to the next jarring scene.

I did feel that the plot wasn't very cohesive. Jumping between past and present the timelines sometimes felt off. The film also showcases toxic masculinity but doesn't examine it fully. It's like a sore that just festers, unchecked.

Bongile is a captivating lead. His performance has garnered a Best Actor nomination at this year's Saftas. He transformed into a boxer and trained for months to get into shape.

In an interview with Channel24, he said that filming the movie was tough for him.

Knuckle City is a hard-hitting unfiltered film that will make you flinch and hold your breath in preparation for the next blow. Be prepared to get knocked out.


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