The South African action sensation storming Netflix
(Credit: Netflix)

Film News

The South African action sensation storming Netflix

Over the last few years, Netflix has been diversifying and investing in getting more original global content on its platform. South Korean films and series saw a boost on the platform, and now South African content is having its moment on Netflix.

For two weeks, the top film on Netflix’s ten best-performing films charts worldwide has been a South African action drama that has a different flavour and vibe than the usual Hollywood fare. Mandla Walter Dube’s Heart of the Hunter is based on South African novelist and screenwriter Deon Meyer’s book of the same name. It is formulaic and has the appearance of a low-budget blockbuster, but it has a hook that is gripping audiences who want to branch out from the regular Hollywood action flicks.

At the centre of the story is Zuko Khumalo, portrayed by the charismatic Bonko Khoza, who has had a prolific career in South Africa and made his forays west with The Woman King and the remake of Roots. Zuko is a retired assassin who finds himself reluctantly pulled back into the dangerous world he thought he had left behind. Set against the backdrop of a corrupt government, Zuko is forced to confront a deadly conspiracy orchestrated by a sleazy presidential candidate, Mtima (played with chilling intensity by Sisanda Henna).

The film follows Zuko’s journey as he grapples with his past while striving to protect his newfound domestic bliss with his partner Malime and her son Pakamile. However, when his friend Johnny Klein uncovers evidence of a covert government plot, Zuko is thrust back into the lethal world of black ops and political intrigue. As he navigates through a web of betrayal and deception, Zuko must confront his inner demons while battling formidable adversaries determined to silence anyone who dares to oppose them.

While Heart of the Hunter may follow a familiar narrative trajectory of a reluctant hero drawn back into the fray, it distinguishes itself with its high-octane action set pieces. Despite its modest budget, the film captures the beauty of South Africa quite well. Dube also deserves applause for choosing practical effects over shoddy CGI to create a sense of realism that elevates the film’s action sequences.

Khoza also delivers a performance worthy of opening more doors internationally. The film’s success on a global scale speaks to its universal appeal, transcending geographical boundaries as it surges past competition to the top ten spots on Netflix in as many as 78 countries, from Serbia to Sri Lanka. In the two weeks Heart of the Hunter has been dominating the global charts, the film has accumulated 21.9million individual views and 39.2million hours viewed.

This may not be the best of South African cinema. If anything, it is akin to the masala fare Bollywood fans are all too familiar with in their mainstream movies. So, if you are in the mood for some distinctly regional flavours of action, you can tune into Heart of the Hunter on Netflix and watch the trailer here: