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Film Review – Zulu

Director: Jerome Salle
Screenplay: Caryl Ferey and Julien Rappeneau
Cast: Orlando Bloom, Forest Whitaker, Tanya van Graan, and Natasha Loring
Genre: Crime Thriller

Zulu is a post-apartheid South African film that tells the story of two detectives Ali Sokhela (Forest Whitaker) and Brian Epkeen (Orlando Bloom) of Cape Town’s Serious Violent Crime Unit. Together they work on the murder of a rich girl found brutally beaten on the beach. But her death is just the tip of an iceberg that leads to a drug ring, an evil scientist who escaped punishment after apartheid and gang violence.
Ali has a painful past because he witnessed his father getting burned alive when he was a boy. He has also suffered other traumatising experiences that he went through during the apartheid era. His partner Brian, on the other hand, is loyal but he is always hungover and he has unresolved issues with his ex-wife and son.
Whitaker and Bloom are not at their best even though they have been given meaty characters with a lot of history, both personal and country-wise. The only aspect that saves this film is the technical side and the beautiful location scenery, but other than that there is little else.

Zulu is not what I expected at all. I expected a film about the Zulu tribe and maybe how they are starting to lose their culture and traditions because of western influences. But I got the shock of my life when people started killing each other and chopping of hands. And the fact that the movie jumps from one totally unrelated scene to the next, just confused me. The storyline is continually interrupted. Most of the time I figured it out to late how a specific scene actually fits into the whole film.  In previous reviews, I have expressed my unhappiness about the fact that American actors play African characters. Zulu just proves my point. Even though Whitaker and Bloom tried with the accent and the local vernacular, it is just so fake. I felt so sorry for them because I could actually see it in their faces how they struggled to get it right, plus there was not much chemistry between them and the local actors. I could feel the distance.
But maybe the fact that Bloom showed off his six pack abs and tattoos will entice the ladies a bit. Still, this is not a very strong plus-points since nowadays most films have men showing off their hot bodies. Maybe this and the beautiful scenery of Cape Town and the Namib Desert will make up for all the unnecessary violence and weak storyline. South Africa and Namibia still have a lot of issues to deal with because of their past but these issues just get swept under the carpet, but like most people say who have not experienced it ‘Get over it’.
Zulu was selected as the closing film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, but I have a hunch this happened because the producer and the director are French, not because it is a good movie.

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