Star-studded cast aside, ‘Empini’ is yet to live up to the hype of being an action-packed thriller

Siyabonga Thwala and Nambitha Ben-Mazwi helm the new thriller series, ‘Empini’. Picture: Showmax

Siyabonga Thwala and Nambitha Ben-Mazwi helm the new thriller series, ‘Empini’. Picture: Showmax

Published Jun 3, 2024


With all the hype around “Empini”, I was eager to check out the star-studded action-packed thriller.

When I watched the first two episodes, I didn’t find myself blown away by it. Then I decided to give it another go.

Again, I was left feeling the same way. The action has been meh, ditto for the script.

That said, perhaps this is one of those series that will grow on you as the episodes roll on. After all, it is a 52-episode offering, helmed by Clive Morris Productions, which has a great track record in the industry.

And let’s not forget the crème de la crème cast of Mzansi’s finest à la Nambitha Ben-Mazwi, Owen Sejake, Charmaine Mtinta, Terrence Ngwila, Nqobile Sipamla and, of course, the inimitable Siyabonga Thwala.

The story is set in the world of high-end private security, run by Khaya Bhodoza (Thwala). His right hand Thobani Kodisang (Ngwila) rules with an iron fist and shares a noticeable disdain for Ndoni Thema (Ben-Mazwi), who, aside from being one of the bodyguards is also the daughter of a Struggle hero.

As a young girl, she witnessed her father being killed. But his death is listed as a suicide. This left her wrestling with pent-up emotions from unanswered questions that impacted her mental health.

But Khaya was like a father figure to her. As such, she has grown to hold him in high regard.

Nambitha Ben-Mazwi as Ndoni Thema in ‘Empini’. Picture: Showmax

However, a recent ceremony honouring her late father brings up old demons. And Ndoni becomes like a dog with a bone, more so when she receives intel indicating there is more to her father’s death than meets the eye.

As such, she begins a covert investigation.

But her questions and request for help don’t sit well with Khaya. He’s got his hands full as well. Married to the deputy president's daughter, he walks a fine line between keeping everyone happy.

His wife isn’t a pushover either. She is all about appearances and runs their household with the savvy of a bonafide spin doctor, especially when it comes to her artist son and their daughter, who is about to walk down the aisle with playboy General Moeti (Sejake).

Several story arcs are being juggled in the series. Streamers will no doubt be fascinated by the political cover-ups and clean-ups, drama, romance and suspense.

That said, I’m struggling to embrace Ben-Mazwi in what is a very layered role. So far, we only got to see her character as headstrong and impulsive. I’m looking forward to seeing what else she brings to the table as the lead.

∎ “Empini” is streaming on Showmax with double episodes dropping every Thursday.