Movie Reviews

Heart Of The Hunter Review: Another Action-Packed African Thriller

In just 10 seconds, a great movie can captivate its audience, keeping them hooked throughout. ‘Heart of the Hunter’ did just that.

Heart Of The Hunter review
Heart of the Hunter cover [PHOTO CREDIT: Broadcast Media Africa]

For our Heart of the Hunter review, we examine how effectively the politically motivated African action thriller movie was portrayed. What are the typical ingredients of a standard action movie? Do audiences anticipate thrilling gunfights, intense chase sequences, and adrenaline-pumping fight scenes? Is there a requirement for gripping suspense or a captivating plot? How effectively does the latest South African Netflix movie, ‘Heart of the Hunter,’ fulfil these expectations?

Released on March 29, 2024, ‘Heart of the Hunter’  Directed by Mandla Dube is a gripping tale centered around retired Assassin Zuko. Once a member of the secretive activist group known as Alkebulan, dedicated to upholding justice and protecting the innocent, Zuko’s conscience led him to retire after a traumatic incident where a young child witnessed the death of his corrupt father at Zuko’s hands. Seeking a fresh start, Zuko embarks on a new life in another city with his girlfriend Malime and her young son, Paka. However, what was meant to be a sweet love story and a chance at redemption turns sour when Zuko’s past comes knocking at the front door.

Plot

In just 10 seconds, a great movie can captivate its audience, keeping them hooked throughout. ‘Heart of the Hunter’ did just that. As an action-packed crime thriller, what better way to engage viewers than with an intense fight scene right from the start? The opening scene, introducing Zuko as he assassinates a corrupt government official, sets the tone perfectly. Two years later, after the murder and Zuko’s retirement, he lies in bed with his girlfriend Malime, reflecting on his last assignment, haunted by the memory of the victim’s child witnessing her father’s death at his hands.

Following that, the head of PIA (Presidential Intelligence Agency) led a special operation aimed at eliminating activist Johnny Klein, a member of the Alkebulan group seen as a threat to presidential candidate Mtima’s ambitions. Mtima, a corrupt and ruthless figure, wielded influence over even the PIA, leaving the Alkebulans as his only challenge. Resorting to eliminating Klein, whom he believed held damaging information, Mtima dispatched a special ops unit. However, their mission went awry when they mistakenly killed the wrong man, leaving viewers pondering several questions. Who was the man at the house? Were the special ops not briefed properly? How did they mistake a young black man for the older, light-skinned Johnny Klein? Despite these queries, the movie remains enjoyable.

Upon learning of the PIA’s failure to eliminate Johnny, Mtima pressures the head of operations, Mo, to intensify efforts to kill him. Johnny, aware of the target on his back, swiftly entrusts Zuko with the task of exposing Mtima’s secrets, even as Zuko prepares to propose to his girlfriend.

Zuko’s tranquil morning with his family was interrupted when his past came knocking at his front door. Despite Zuko’s initial reluctance to engage further with the Alkebulans, the Special Ops unit, led by Mo, targeted him anew after Johnny passed on crucial information about Mtima’s secrets during a meeting in Zuko’s workshop. Shortly after their encounter, Johnny, battling terminal cancer, decided to end his own life.

Now faced with no alternative, Zuko resolves to undertake the tasks, despite the difficult task of informing his girlfriend of his departure. As a skilled assassin aware of the danger he faces, one might assume he had safety precautions in place for his family. However, this oversight proves to be a fatal mistake, jeopardizing the otherwise perfect relationship he could have had with Malime and her son, who become targets for the special ops.

While the infiltration of the PIA by Naledi, who is also a member of the Alkebulan activism group, seemed like a promising twist, it fell short of expectations. One would have anticipated Naledi to prevent Malime’s unfortunate end while in the PIA custody. However, Malime’s death due to an accident felt like a weak twist as the writers missed an opportunity to execute this plot twist more effectively.

The narrative transitioned from the unfortunate death of Malime to Zuko’s attempt to evade the PIA agents under orders from Mtima to eliminate him. While action fiction films often incorporate cinematic techniques, the helicopter sequence with Tiger firing relentlessly at Zuko as he rode his bike was deemed overly exaggerated and unrealistic. Conversely, the moment when Zuko fearlessly approached a barricade at full speed on his bike provided an exhilarating sense of entertainment and suspense.

Heart Of The Hunter review
A scene from Heart Of The Hunter [PHOTO CREDIT: IMDb]

Upon learning of his wife’s death, Zuko, driven by anger and a thirst for revenge, resolves to complete his mission and exact vengeance upon his enemies with his spear. Nevertheless, he also makes sure to connect with a reporter who Mtima had previously ruined his career, providing evidence of Mtima’s criminal history and past misdeeds.

Armed with his signature spear, Zuko arrives at Mtima’s secret hideout to seek revenge on Mtima and rescue his son, Pako, from the clutches of Mo. The climax of the movie delivers a perfect conclusion, especially the gripping showdown between Tiger and Zuko. Just as Zuko is poised to kill Tiger with his spear, he hears Pako calling out his name from Mo’s grasp, held hostage as leverage for Zuko to surrender. However,

The narrative takes an unexpected turn when Mo unexpectedly shoots Mtima in the chest while he arrogantly orders her to eliminate Zuko due to incriminating evidence he holds against her. Mo meets her demise as she prepares to shoot Zuko, falling victim to a bullet from Zuko’s partner, Nalade.

In the eyes of many, ‘Heart of the Hunter’ might seem reminiscent of John Wick’s narrative, but one would argue that the film possesses its distinct charm, particularly evident in its cultural ambience. While the cinematography may be slightly above average, overall, ‘Heart of the Hunter’ stands as a commendable production, offering its unique take on the action genre.

Cast

Mandla Dube deserves some accolades for his excellent casting choices, as each actor came prepared and delivered commendable performances in their respective roles.

Particularly noteworthy was the performance of Zuko Portrayed by Bonko Khoza and Pako portrayed by Boleng Mogosti, whose on-screen chemistry truly resonated with audiences, showcasing a palpable bond between their characters.

Heart Of The Hunter review xs
A scene from Heart Of The Hunter [PHOTO CREDIT: Blake Friedmann]

Nicole Fortuin also stood out with a strong performance, effectively portraying the role of Naledi.

While audiences may have hoped for more depth from the character of Mtima, Sisanda Henna still managed to impress, embodying the role of a proud and vexatious politician convincingly.

Heart Of The Hunter review
A scene from Heart Of The Hunter [PHOTO CREDIT: Netflix]

Furthermore, the contributions of other actors, such as Connie Ferguson, Tim Theron, Peter Butler, Deon Coetzee and a host of others were instrumental in the overall success of the film.

Language

While English appears to dominate the dialogue in the South African film ‘Heart of the Hunter’, the incorporation of Xhosa, Zulu, and Afrikaans languages added a flavorful dimension to the movie, enriching its cultural authenticity. This linguistic diversity not only enhanced the realism of the setting but also allowed for a more immersive and inclusive viewing experience for audiences.

In summary, ‘Heart of the Hunter’ is an exciting movie with the potential to keep viewers glued to the screen from start to finish. The film stands out due to its powerful performances and distinctive South African culture. It’s an exhilarating trip all around.                  

heart Of The Hunter cover Netflix
5.8
Review Overview
Summary

‘Heart of the Hunter’ delivers plenty of action and intrigue, keeping viewers glued to the screen from start to finish. While some plot twists may feel a bit predictable, the film’s strong performances and South African cultural flavour set it apart. Overall, it’s a thrilling ride that leaves you wanting more.

  • Costumes 4
  • Casting6
  • Plot6
  • Setting6
  • Story7
Watch 'Heart of the Hunter' on Netflix

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