Review: Hijack Stories (2000)


Directed by: Oliver Schmitz | 94 minutes | drama, crime | Actors: Tony Kgoroge, Rapulana Seiphemo, Percy Matsemela, Makhaola Ndebele, Moshidi Motshegwa, Emily McArthur, Owen Sejake, George Lamola, Robert Whitehead, Harold Speedy Matihabo

In Hijack Stories, we meet up-and-coming actor Sox Moraka (Tony Kgoroge), who has to audition for the role of gangster in a hit TV series. Under the influence of his great role model Wesley Snipes, he fails because he can’t portray a township gangster, but a Snipes clone. The role could be his breakthrough and he would do anything to succeed. He decides to go back to his roots against the will of his white girlfriend Nicky (Emily McArthur). In Soweto, it appears that a lot has changed since his departure to Johannesburg. He hopes his uncle, who still lives there, can help him. After talking to his uncle, he meets Zama (Rapulana Seiphemo), who is the dreaded leader of a gang, but also turns out to be an old school friend. He asks if Zama, who does not trust it all, would like to teach him the tricks of the trade. In fact, Zama considers Sox a defector because his former comrade has exchanged the townships for the “white” city. Eventually he bites and the game can begin.

What follows is a mediocre gangster film in which the roles between Sox and Zama slowly turn around. Sox confuses everyday reality with the reality of film and television. For example, he shows up at the audition with a real gun and only realizes it when he has aimed it at the casting director. Zama, who now walks around Johannesburg not only in the middle of the night but also in daylight, increasingly wonders whether he wants to be that notorious gangster. The character developments between these two characters are the common thread in the film, which is complemented by short storylines (such as the relationship with a white girlfriend who breaks down and falling in love with a girl from Soweto), which are tame and predictable. The obvious events (such as robberies and chases) that follow each other in rapid succession are clichéd and can come straight from a mediocre Hollywood production. Leading actors Tony Kgoroge and Raulana Seiphemo are not convincing. Percy Matsemela as driver Fly provides the necessary bright spots with his performance. It is a pity that the film maker no longer emphasized the situation as it is typical in the townships. Social issues are hardly mentioned, if at all, while this could have provided the distinguishing factor. What the viewer is now presented with is not enough to score a pass.

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