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4.3 out of 5 stars
Tsotsi [DVD] [2006]
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 2 May 2006
"Tsotsi" won the Best Foreign Film Award at the 2006 Oscars, so it is worth watching if only to see why it is so highly rated by the critics. It is a film about redemption and "the power of love" ,which transforms the heart of a callous and vicious Soweto gangster; the "Tsotsi" of the film's title. This takes place gradually following his unwitting kidnapping of a young baby after stealing a car and shooting a woman in a wealthy part of Johannesburg. Assuming the role of father , the experience of looking after the stolen child triggers memories of his own traumatic childhood and helps him come to terms with it, as well as opening his heart to the possibility of developing constructive, loving relationships with people. Presley Chweneyagae puts in a stellar performance as Tsotsi and he is ably supported by a fine cast. The film possesses a tremendous amount of intensity and emotion and it's message that "there is good in everyone" ,even amongst the most hopeless of cases ,is a positive and life-affirming one. The cinematography in "Tsotsi" is admirable also and the storyline provides interesting insights into relationships between social classes in 21st Century South Africa, where life for the majority of blacks still appears to remain nasty ,brutish and short.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 7 April 2006
So you may have missed Tsotsi when it was in our cinemas this winter/spring and may have thought that wasn't much of a loss anyway. It's not Mission impossible nor is it Sophies choice- its not "hollywood" and that may have led you to believe you didn't miss anything significant, a feeling that i probably would have shared if i hadn't been forced to see this beautiful southafrican made film.
I fell instantly in love with the amazingly acted characters of tsotsi and the visual style of the film equally. So much so, i bought this dvd. This film is a gem. An absolutely beautiful story which captivates and transends geographical boundaries, race and class
I guess the point of this review is to make sure that a least one other person out there may see it, buy the dvd and hopefully see what i saw. Or at least something close to what i did. thanks
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 31 January 2007
Set mainly in a ghetto in Johannesburg this film tells the story of the criminal underclass for whom violence and robbery are everyday occurrences and necessary for their own survival. The film doesn't glamorize this violence in any way and instead uses it to paint a bleak picture of their existence. The characters come across as emotionally fragile despite the outward show of bravado. The main character, Tsotsi, finds a baby after a carjacking and having to care for it brings out an emotional side of him that would have otherwise remained unexpressed. The slow revealing of his true emotional nature is wonderfully acted and directed and instead of despising the criminal we end up sympathising with a victim of circumstances beyond their control.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I don't usually take the time to review things as most people say it all in their reviews anyway, but I have to express my pure love for this film.

Not only did I cry from beginning to end, but I cried with every single emotion known to man: anger, sadness, annoyance, happiness, but above all things, HOPE. The events in this film may not be happening to you, but it's the lessons they teach that will inspire you to think more about how you perceive the world around you as it touches on morals and global issues without throwing them in your face.
Tsotsi as a character is entirely believable. Kudos to the actor who plays him; he allowed me to understand Tsotsi through actions alone.
Fantastic story, fantastic script, fantastic music; this film is beyond words.

The film is not for the faint-hearted, but although there is a fair amount of action and violence, I wouldn't call it an "action film". The film is a little slow as it is only based on a few days in the life of Tsotsi, so I would not recommend this to anyone who loves a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller. However, I would still encourage anybody to give it a chance! Magnificent!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2008
Based on a novel by South African playwright Athol Fugard, Tsotsi a slickly-produced, powerful drama set in a giant township outside Johannesburg. Presley Chweneyagae stars as the eponymous Tsotsi, a baby-faced assassin forced into surrogate fatherhood by the baby he unwittingly kidnaps during a bungled car jacking. Protecting the baby thus forces Tsotsi to examine his behaviour in the light of his own lost childhood, darkened by the death of his mother to AIDS and an abusive father.

`Tsotsi' is an apocalyptic but highly stylised vision of township blight, all brewing storm clouds and hyper-real colours. Large, prominent AIDS/HIV posters feature in several shots, adding to a mood of impending catastrophe as ominously as the punctuating lightening bolts and thunderclaps. The style, very much informed by hip hop video culture - or at least a hybrid South African version of it - brings to mind Mathieu Kassovitz's `La Haine', the camera in the initial sequences bouncing to booty-shaking Kwaito basslines. While the sets seem studio-engineered rather than shot on location, the visual slickness is offset by unselfconsciously naturalistic performances.

By focusing on black South Africa, both rich and poor - there is scarcely a white face in the film - 'Tsotsi' deals less with the legacy of Apartheid and more with issues of poverty, personal responsibility, penetance, and the impact of broken families on their children. This latter aspect, especially that caused by the global AIDS epidemic, makes Tstosi universal without resorting to explicit political finger-pointing. While the root causes of AIDS are not explored, one of its consequences is - the resulting breakdown of the family unit and its impact on social dysfunction.

Above all, `Tsotsi' is a simple and moving story about boys forced to be men by their circumstances, which is why Presley Chweneyagae is so perfect in the lead role: his soft, benign features belying a life of pain. Despite the apparently downbeat conclusion, there is a subtler note of optimism, that the young men of the townships can nurture the next generation in the most difficult circumstances, that they can learn from their experiences and do the right thing.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 14 May 2006
Though "Tsotsi" is set in South Africa and the milieu, to the American eye, is as exotic as a film set on the Moon, the concerns are Universal: the loss or disconnect of ones parents, the longing for a parent's love and caring, a governments lack of concern for a citizens civil rights.

Tsotsi (Presley Chweneygae) is a hood, a young man who kills and steals without any apparent concern for what he is doing and why he is doing it. His face and eyes radiate mostly hate and disdain. He is psychically and emotionally detached and removed. Then, one day he steals a luxury car, shoots the woman to whom it belongs and realizes, once he drives the car away, that there is an infant in the back seat.

This beautiful, innocent child forces Tsotsi ( really named David) to face the loss of his Mother, the uncaring, drunken non-concern of his father and the deep seated, mostly ignored or glossed , psychically ignored feelings with which he hasn't been able to deal.

Director and screenwriter Gavin Hood (adapted from a novel by Athol Fugard) has fashioned a traditionally structured film and peopled it with non-traditional characters and it works because we can all relate to Tsotsi's dilemma. And it doesn't hurt to have Presley Chweneygae as your lead character. The first time we see Tsotsi on screen he looks at the camera with his huge black eyes: eyes that are filled with superiority, despair, disgust and hurt. When he first sees the infant his eyes and face fill with wonder and awe at the utter helplessness and innocence. It is this disparity and friction that makes the film crackle with fire and well observed life.

"Tsotsi" is not a revolutionary film like say the similarly themed "Children of God" but it is a very emotionally effective and socially aware one and Presley Chweneyagae's performance is so natural and truthful that it makes you wince with recognition and empathy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2013
I was surprised to find (at the time of writing: November 2013) that there were only 31 reviews of Tsotsi on Amazon UK. Maybe that's because it's such a bleak-sounding film: violent gangster ("Tsotsi" means gangster or thug) shoots a mother and accidentally abducts her baby. But it's a film about redemption, education and self-knowledge. Yawn, yawn, I hear you say: we've all come across examples of flicks about these sorts of things. But most of them are pretty obviously make-believe and involve the viewer in fairly drastic suspensions of disbelief. This isn't like that. I felt connected to the main character quickly (although not immediately!), and found his development psychologically plausible. The ending is perfect. Abrupt, but hopeful. Things probably haven't changed much in South Africa (or worldwide) for people in Tsotsi's position since the film was made, so although 2006 was a long time ago, if you haven't seen Tsotsi yet, and you only see one film this year, I'd recommend this.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 8 September 2006
Having lived in SA for many years and seeing the quality tv programmes (in both script and acting departments) I was a little disappointed with this movie. The acting at some points seemed of a lower standard as the main character failed to exude the 'tough guy' personality. His facial expressions and body language just weren't up to par and seemed a bit funny at times.

That said the story is excellent and the director does a good job of portraying Jo'burg as it is today with the high crime rate and levels of poverty that lay on its doorstep. There is no sugar coating in this film and one will see cold-blooded violence but also the warming of one such heart by the simple innocence of a baby.

If you'd like a real picture of the trials of daily life in SA today then watch this movie.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
`Tsotsi' is one gorgeous and thrilling film. Not only is it a first-rate piece of storytelling, but it also takes the viewer into a world of South African poverty and crime that one might not know existed. Director/writer Gavin Hood offers us a tale of tragic redemption and uncommon poetry in a subculture of the most abject immorality.

The actors here were phenomenal and their performances were both realistic and believable. Natural talented Presley Chweneyagae , as Tsotsi, is not just physically charismatic, but the changes in his voice are gripping in communicating the extreme range of feelings he experiences over the few days the film takes place. This is a road trip through his soul, from flash backs to existential acts from his depths to finding his humanity (and his real name). His relationship with a cruelly accidental foundling infant has no comparison to the dozens of films, usually comedies, made around the world about an irresponsible guy stuck with a kid and how a child can be father to man. While his picaresque physical and psychic journey is almost as theatrical in its coincidences as "Crash", the tension is built up as it is unpredictable in each confrontation whether he will react violently or redemptive.

Just when I thought his side kicks were indifferent, even they turned out to have complicated stories that were well portrayed, particularly Mothusi Magano as "Boston".Terry Pheto as "Miriam" is the very essence of a woman who shows artistic talent, strength and nourishment in her role. It is rare to see maternal love so powerfully portrayed onto a film.

The music embedded in here is strong and goes perfect with this picture. There were times I would playback a scene so I can rehear the music samples. After watching this film I was able to grab hold of the soundtrack. The tracks were put together by local South African's. The artist who are particularly outstanding are the tracks by local Kwaito artist Zola which uniquely combine local and international hip hop into a new sound, as well as tracks with the inspiring voice of Vasi Mahlasela over choirs, which recalls Ladysmith Black Mambazo. With an attention to detail in the music, the middle class family listens to soft R & B on their car radio, in comparison to the township sound that surrounds the Soweto residents.

The subtitles are well done throughout and translated musical lyrics, even as we can occasionally pick out some Pidgin English amidst the township jive. In the end, this crime film is a morality play about sin and love. `Tsotsi' shows a powerful statement about the transforming nature of guilt. This is truly a must see. I also highly recommend 'City of God.'
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 11 December 2006
The thing I liked the most about Tsotsi is the fact that the director made all the right choices when editing the film. It is one of these films that could easily slip into melodrama or cheese, but manages to stay afloat by offering the audience no more than required and as a result packs a genuine emotional punch. This was obvious when viewing the film and confirmed when watching some of the excellent extras with commentary.

The story of Tsotsi is a familiar one - boy lives harrowing childhood, boy becomes criminal, boy meets girl, and boy is redeemed - however the girl, in this instance, is replaced by a recently born baby. The baby is an unwelcome acquisition when Tsotsi car-jacks a middle class family across the distinctive wasteland which borders the rich and the poor.

This is the beginning of the end of Tsotsi's carefree lawless ways, but bearing in mind the lack of money and the pressing requirements such as food for the baby, the crime continues but in a more structured and admirable way. Tsotsi feels genuine fear of what is happening and the baby's wellbeing leading him to hold a young mother at gunpoint until she feeds the child. This transformation, however, is enough to allow us to feel for Tsotsi and changes what we could have viewed as the anti-christ into an anti-hero in a believable way. There is a nice touch where, on a couple of occasions, lookers on ask whether the mother is dead. Tsotsi is unable to answer this question as he is unaware himself of the outcome of the violent car-jacking. On discovering that the mother is still alive, these innocent questions are probably important in persuading him to return the child to their rightful guardian.

The film is expertly shot and is helped along nicely by a thumping soundtrack from a local producer who also plays a local gangster.

The performances by local actors are all excellent.

Be sure to watch the extras!
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