Jahmil X.T Qubeka's "Knuckle City" is an authentic film on his childhood home. Picture: Supplied
Jahmil X.T Qubeka's "Knuckle City" is an authentic film on his childhood home. Picture: Supplied

'Knuckle City' packs a mean punch

By Alyssia Birjalal Time of article published Feb 27, 2020

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"Knuckle City" is a truly authentic take on the boxing culture in Mdantsane, the boxing mecca of South Africa - where a womanizing, down and out, aging boxer (Bongile Mantsai) struggles to attain the one fight that he believes will uplift his fractured family.  

Rating: 4/5

Mansai, stars as the film’s lead, Dudu ‘Nightrider’ Nyakama and puts on a gripping, electrifying and towards the end, heartbreaking performance, just as intended by director, Jahmil X.T Qubeka. Mansai’s acting won him the Best Actor award at the Durban International Film Festival and the Africa International Film Festival last year. 

This year film bagged ten SAFTA nominations – including Best Achievement in Directing, Best Achievement in Scriptwriting, Best achievement in Editing, Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor.

Produced by Yellowbone Entertainment, Qubeka returns to his childhood home of Mdantsane to explore how poverty and toxic masculinity continually drives the cycle of violence that traps so many of its people. 

The film sees Dudu unwittingly enlist the help of his reckless but resourceful, gangster brother, Duke (Thembekile Komani) who has just come out of jail. This new partnership comes with incredibly high stakes putting everyone in Dudu’s life in grave danger.

Haunted by the ghost of their father, who also lived life in the ring and loved many women, Dudu soon finds that the fight at home is far more challenging than any opponent he can possibly face in the ring.

It’s a tale about redemption, a story of a family’s coherence and the strive to maintain internal consistency in the face of the odds. 

The multi award-winning Qubeka is an extremely talented writer and director as we’ve seen before in “Of Good Report” and “Sew The Winter To My Skin”. 

The "Knuckle City" script is riveting and littered with vulgarity and violence, but, this just shows the extreme lengths Qubeka went to, to make sure he showcased the boxing underworld and township life accurately.

The film is also flooded with a sea of poverty, criminality and the rife corruption in the boxing world. It dissects notions of inherited toxic masculinity and explores the psychology of a fighter. 

Engulfed in beautiful cinematography that is both sweeping and intimate, Qubeka’s shows that actions to uplift family, and not endanger them, is what real manhood is all about.

The film’s other cast members includes Faniswa Yisa, Patrick Ndlovu, Siv Ngesi, Owen Sejake, Angela Sithole, Nomhle Nkonyeni and Zolisa Xaluva. 

Although things threaten to fall apart, Knuckle City is a story of triumph.

*"Knuckle City" opens in cinemas nationwide on Friday, February 28. 

Watch the trailer below:

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