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The Four Corners (Die Vier Hoeke)

CAST: Brendon Daniels, Jezzriel Skei, Irshaad Ally, Lindiwe Matshikiza, Abduragman Adams

DIRECTOR: Ian Gabriel


RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes


The Four Corners (Die Vier Hoeke) is a visually arresting slalom through the gang-infested badlands of the Cape Flats. Here, the thug mythology of the prisons, with its number gangs and secretive language (known as Sabela), has infected the maelstrom of drug-dealer turf wars and ordinary citizens struggling to keep their heads above water. No one passes through unscathed.

In this hodge-podge of toil and trouble, director Gabriel sets five lives on a tragic collision course. Four Corners is principally the coming of age tale of 13-year-old Ricardo (Skei), a chess prodigy who, in the absence of any sort of parental guidance, is struggling to walk the straight-and-narrow.

Underscoring Ricardo’s journey is that of Farrakhan (Daniels), a 28s gang prison general who has chosen to turn his back on his old life. First though, he must answer the gritty call of revenge as he metes out justice for the murder of his father and reclaims his birth-right, his home, from the clutches of a drug dealer.

A “river of peace” is what he dubs this former den of iniquity and to emphasise the point, he scalds his 28s tattoo from his arm with an iron. It’s a dramatic statement of intent, but Farrakhan’s past doggedly tails him despite his efforts to shake it.

Ricardo is Farrakhan’s son, but while the youngster isn’t aware of it, he’s about to walk the very same path his father and grandfather traversed before him. Ushering him into the gang fold is Americans gang underboss Gasant (Ally), a vindictive power-drunk hood who rallies the local youngsters to his criminal cause in exchange for the obscene wads of cash he loves to flaunt. When Farrakhan exacts his revenge upon leaving prison, it is Ally who pushes Ricardo to the front line of their squabble. For the budding chess master, it almost proves a move too far.

In the midst of this conflict, we also meet Tito (Adams), a police detective on the hunt for a serial killer who quotes from the Bible, and Leila (Matshikiza) a doctor who has returned from London to wrap up her late father’s estate. While Tito takes an interest in Ricardo, perhaps hoping to shield the child from the temptations of an easy-out, Leila rekindles a dormant romance with Farrakhan as she too tries to carve out a niche for herself in a world gone topsy-turvy.

Much like in the Brazilian gangster docu-drama City of God, these seemingly disparate storylines collide in a brutal climax, but Leila’s drama and Tito’s hunt for the serial killer muddy the waters somewhat. This being a Cape Town story, the serial killer angle, conducted over fruitless hunts through the sandy dunes bordering Mitchells Plain, carries with it a strong whiff of the Station Strangler’s reign of terror. Yet, despite there being children missing, we see none of this fear in the communities the killer is operating in.

Also, the violence playing out in the streets daily tempers the impact of yet another, albeit more eccentric, killer.

Despite its flaws, Four Corners is a gripping insight into life on the Cape Flats.

The action carries the story forward at a thrilling clip and the cinematography is particularly impressive, as are the performances from Daniels, Skei and Ally.

If you liked City of God you will like this.