3.5 out of 4 First Review at TIFF for \”Knuckle City\”

Elevator Pitch: Raging Bull meets Rocky, but in South Africa

It is impossible not to be completely consumed by Knuckle City, the fourth feature from writer and director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka. Starring Bongile Mantsai as the struggling boxer Dudu Nyakama, the film uses its lead as a means of navigating the painful issues of toxic masculinity, age, and the impossible-seeming choices one can be forced to make to ensure the survival of themselves and the people they love. Set in the South African township of Mdantsane, Nyakama’s story submerges viewers in the narrative of a man whose familial and athletic history converge over the course of his life, only to be repeatedly tainted by the cruelty of certain members of the township’s criminal underworld. Mantsai’s performance is gripping, electrifying, and heartbreaking, and he is matched by his fellow castmates who don’t hesitate for a second to pull you along with them, lest you forget that this story is not simply about one man, but about the lives who surround and are affected by him. It is a movie that’s as defined by what one’s heart can endure as much as it is by its mesmerizing sport, its acting, and how long it will stay with you. Knuckle City cannot be overlooked. – Anne T. Donahue

TIFF 2019 schedule: Sept. 7, 10 p.m., Scotiabank; Sept. 9, 12:30 p.m., Scotiabank; Sept. 14, 3:15 p.m., Scotiabank

TIFF review: Knuckle City

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