Saturday, October 21, 2006

My Take - Catch a Fire - starring Derek Luke and Tim Robbins

A Mini Movie Review
By: A. L. “Toni” Anderson

Derek Luke (Glory Road - 2006) and Academy Award winner Tim Robbins (Mystic River - 2003) star in Catch a Fire (2006), the dramatic new film by Australian director Phillip Noyce (The Bone Collector - 1999). The film is based on the life of Patrick Chamusso, past employee of the Secunda Oil Refinery in Transvaal, South Africa, and present political activist. The overwhelming injustice of apartheid in 1980s South Africa converts a loyal “company man” into a raging revolutionary. The screenplay is written by Shawn Slovo (Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – 2001).

Catch a Fire is a fascinating story of racially segregated life in European-dominated South Africa, which closely parallels our struggle for civil rights here in the U.S. Throughout the film, there is a bloodthirsty search for African “terrorists” who are merely seeking to regain their dignity.

The film begins with random military-style checkpoint activity, vicious police dogs prowling, and unconscionable violence against alleged members of the African National Congress. Robbins is Nic Vos of the Police Security Branch, one of the prime perpetrators of the out-of-control violence, in search of "terroristic activity" within the oil refinery plant. The picture of blatant racism and cruelty is enough to make one want to weep — or to fight back! Chamusso chooses to do both.

On the surface, Chamusso seems to be an ordinary upright citizen. He is a hard-working man who holds a position of responsibility in the refinery. He has a fine family that he loves at home. He also has a secret that places it all in jeopardy, and ultimately is instrumental in bringing about his personal downfall. It is the revelation of this secret that is at the heart of a devastating betrayal, and the loss of family and freedom.

Chamusso’s comely wife is played by Bonnie Mbuli (Drum - 2004). Other supporting cast are Mncedisi Shabangu (Hijack Stories - 2000) as Zuko September, Tumisho Masha (Drum - 2004) as Obadi, Sithembiso as Sixpence, a soccer prodigy who plays on Patrick’s youth team, and Mxo as rebel warrior “Pete My Baby.”

Patrick Chamusso appears in person at the end of the film, interacting with actor Derek Luke. Also appearing in the film are Chamusso’s wife and many adopted children, along with the orphanage run by Patrick and Conney entitled Two Sisters ( There is a cameo appearance by Nelson Mandela, former President of the ANC and of the Nation of South Africa.

The film is named for an early album by Bob Marley and the Wailers, and promimently features their music. With its gripping documentary footage and presentation of the people’s fight against injustice, this excellent film is likely to ignite a fire in you! Catch a Fire opens in theaters on Friday, October 27, 2006. [1:41]

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

[© 10/21/2006]


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