Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema
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Starting off with simple smash and grabs, and petty crime, Lucky Kunene quickly graduates to more aggressive heists such as armed robbery and carjacking. Soon, Lucky realizes he needs a bigger score to fulfill his goals of making it big, and escaping from the slums, to a dream house by the sea. Kunene hatches an elaborate and violent plan to make his fortune - hijacking buildings from landlords of Johannesburg tenements by winning the favor of the tenants and then holding their rent hostage from the landowners. His trouble with the law, coupled with an escalating war between a local drug lord,… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 75%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"rags-to-riches tale cut from the same cloth as City of God, Goodfellas and Scarface."
‑ Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times
"The opening credits of Gangster's Paradise note that it was "inspired by real events." It would be more accurate to say that the film was inspired by Brian De Palma's Scarface and similar fare."
‑ V.A. Musetto, New York Post
"It's hard not to feel such complex, dramatically rich subject matter merits a less prosaic treatment."
‑ Sophie Ivan, Film4
"Issues of race and social injustice add a little grit and texture to an otherwise overlong and over familiar gangster story."
‑ Allan Hunter, Daily Express
"The film pays its dues to the classics. Not only does it lovingly rip off a truck heist from Heat, but Lucky and his gang actually sit down and watch Heat for tips."
‑ Robbie Collin, News of the World
"Writer-director Ralph Ziman strings it all together with slick competence, but given that leading man Rapulana Seiphemo does a persuasive line in moral ambiguity, it's disappointing that the proceedings too often default to glib shoot-'em-up."
‑ Trevor Johnston, Time Out
"Startlingly original, if occasionally overambitious. This is Tsotsi without the feel-good glow, a tale of entrepreneurship's perils and boundless pleasures."
‑ Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
"Despite the familiar ground, Ralph Ziman manages to orchestrate an engrossing and energetic film full of memorable characters and a wicked soundtrack."
‑ Lee Griffiths, Little White Lies
"Sadly things unwind and the movie loses power with covert special pleading for the wiseguy protagonist, who is supposed to be morally superior to obviously vindictive white cops or evil drug dealer rivals."
‑ Peter Bradshaw, Guardian
"Lucky's journey fails to inspire either empathy or a more scrutinizing ethical engagement; he acts simply as a character in a cut-rate gangster mash-up might, and around the time of that first, zany carjacking it ceases to matter where he'll end up."
‑ Michelle Orange, Movieline
"It's easy to overlook the formulas and just enjoy the ride."
‑ Mike Hale, New York Times
"Though South Africa's racial strife is frequently invoked, sociopolitical inquiry takes a backseat to creaky gangster-cinema tropes."
‑ Nick Schager, Village Voice
"Bold, energetic and extremely complicated, this epic thriller is an eye-opening exploration of ... Johannesburg"
‑ Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
"Ultimately, like all the best gangster films, it is a story of people, not principles. Actions, not ideas. And it is very nearly a masterpiece."
‑ James O'Brien, Daily Mail [UK]
"A cheerfully violent South African ramble about a gangster unwilling to "sit on his arse waiting for Mandela". Initially intriguing, it collapses in an hour."
‑ Antonia Quirke, Financial Times
More reviews for Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema on Rotten Tomatoes