“Hard to Get,” directed by Zee Ntuli, is a South African action-romance film about young TK (Pallamce Dladla), a charming small-town womanizer who becomes infatuated with the new girl in town, the sharp and dangerous Skeits (Thishiwe Zigubu).
Photos courtesy of Fantastic Fest
While he just wants to add her to his long lists of conquests, she has other things in mind. Their budding romance goes off the rails when she steals a car from the biggest gangster in town and speeds off to Johannesburg with TK reluctantly in tow.
This Bonnie and Clyde-like adventure becomes laced in violence, sex, and liquor in a city where the crime lords are larger than life and where small town problems come home to roost.
While it lacks the explosions and gloried destruction scenes found in most action movies, this film is genuinely action-packed. An in-your-face soundtrack and ambitiously fun cinematography makes this film demand your attention. And trust me, you better pay attention because this film moves at such a fast rate that even missing a second can leave you behind in the dust.
This fast pace is exciting but leaves important characters like Gumede (Paka Zwedala), the main villain, underdeveloped with unclear motives, which is one of the greatest flaws in the film. Even small-town villain, Mugza (Israel Makoe), whose influence is dramatically diminished after the film moves to Johannesburg, is still given clear motives and some development with as little screen time he had.
The brightest star of this film is Thishiwe Zigubu, a new face to the South African film scene, whose portrayal of Skeits is simply kickass. She uses her charm to manipulate men and plays with them like pawns in her master plan to make a fortune in Johannesburg. This skillful web of seduction and crime begins to fall apart as she develops feelings for one of the men she is using. As cunning and self-reliant as she is, it is hard to watch the excessive amount of violence, both physically and sexually, this character has to face at the hands of the men she is using. Not only is it disgusting, but it is left unaddressed as if a normal thing to experience. This is especially problematic considering femicide, the killing of women by their partners, is five times higher in South Africa than the global average.
Overall, “Hard to Get” is an alright movie that manages to stretch its small budget to create a stylish and sleek action film. There are issues in regards to some of its characters, and its plot isn’t particularly innovative, but it still memorable and worthy of a watch.
If you are a fan foreign or action films and are especially interested in getting a taste of South African cinema which on the rise, definitely go see “Hard to Get.”
“Hard to Get” screening:
Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar theatre
Monday, Sept. 28 at 8:30 p.m.