Emma le Roux (Leandie du Randt), ostensibly a pacifist teacher, is hunted by psychopaths in the wilderness. Picture: Supplied

Jagveld can’t decide if it’s a realistic drama or an action-packed popcorn flick and ends up in no man’s land. 

Director:              Byron Davis
Classification:   16LV
Running Time:     103 Minutes

This is perhaps apt, though, as it tells the story of Emma le Roux (Leandie du Randt), a pacifist schoolteacher, who is on her way home to the family farm in the Great Karoo.
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She has made the trip many times before, without incident, but on this particular visit, she crosses paths with Bosman, Baz, Jay, Boela, AJ and Piet.

  Bosman (Neels van Jaarsveld) is a violent psychopath and the mastermind of this drug syndicate.

Emma witnesses them committing a murder. Now they’re hunting her down like an animal, but they don’t know who this girl is - and nothing is going according to plan. It soon becomes evident that Emma isn’t quite what she seems to be.

Creating a fun action movie is a lot harder than people think. You have to create a compelling backstory for the protagonist, have great fight choreography and coax your audience into rooting for the hero. Jagveld, unfortunately, fails on these fronts.

The characterisation is a big stumbling block: the protaganists are decidedly one-dimensional and under-developed.

Emma, the petite blonde schoolteacher, also happens to be a highly trained killer. The impact of this revelation is lost somewhat due to the fact that the drug syndicate she is up against is run by men who are not only stupid, but have a fragile sense of their own masculinity.

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I really wanted to have a fun time at the cinema and was hoping that the characters in Jagveld would act and talk like real people. I soon realised this was not going to happen.

There is a scene in which one of the henchmen could’ve killed the murderous school teacher. However, he decides instead that it would be a great time to have an exchange with her - even though she had just killed two of the gang members.

The pace of Jagveld is also painstakingly slow. I thought it was supposed to be an Afrikaans action flick. It should have been titled Jagveld: A Long Walk in the Wilderness, because it’s the only meaningful thing that these characters do.

The blaring sound also negated any sense of suspense in the film. Every time Emma is about to kill one of the henchmen, the score would give it away, which removes any sense of surprise.

The film relies heavily on extreme close-ups, lens flare and a red filter to generate a suspense-filled mood, but this doesn’t always work. The pacing is uneven and the film favours tiresome exposition to give the story some context.

This could’ve been easily dealt with in a training scene at the beginning of the film, negating the need for flashbacks and narration by Emma’s father.

Nothing will drive me more crazy than characters standing around explaining the motivations of other characters. Like I’ve said before, this is a movie - show, don’t tell.