Five Fingers for Marseilles

Five Fingers for Marseilles (2017)

Twenty years ago, the young 'Five Fingers' fought for the rural town of Marseilles, against brutal police oppression. Now, after fleeing in disgrace, freedom-fighter-turned-'outlaw' Tau returns to Marseilles, seeking only a peaceful pastoral life. When he finds the town under new threat, he must reluctantly fight to free it. can he free himself from his past? Will the Five Fingers stand again?

Release Date:October 6, 2017
Production Company:Game 7 Films, Stage 5 Films, The Be Phat Motel Film Company
Production Countries:South Africa
Director:Michael Matthews, Hercules Malan, Danie van Rensburg
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:corruption, police brutality, small town, south africa, police, gang, rural setting, violence, oppression, prisoners, marseilles
  • Outstanding film from South Africa
    September 10, 2017

    I saw this film at the Toronto film festival and we were lucky enough to have Q&A with the cast and crew and we got to meet some of the cast. Before I get into the crux of the review, let me call attention to Vuyo Dabula. He exudes charm and has instant screen presence. At first glance, he reminded me of a young Idris Elba but meeting him face to face, he is much shorter and has different features, but has the same kind of love affair with the camera. When he is on screen, the film is that much better. He is articulate, good looking and demands attention. He also did almost all of his own stunts...and there a lot of them. He said in the question period that the only thing he was not allowed to do is fall off the horse. I expect to see him transition over to Hollywood one day. He already had a small role in Age of Ultron, it's just a matter of time before producers take notice of him.

    The film begins with 5 childhood friends who have had enough of police aggression in their small South African village. They start by throwing eggs and stones at the cops and then when one of the group gets taken, Tau, the most brazen of the group, takes her back forcefully. He kills two officers and then spends the next twenty years on the run. The five friends call themselves the Five Fingers of Versailles.

    Tau returns 20 years later to a town, and friends, transformed by the violence caused that day. With the crooked cops now replaced by a caustic gang, Tau must take a stand and fight for what he believes in. He can only hope that the other members of the five fingers still have what it takes to do the right thing. It's time to defend or be driven from the land.

    With inspiration from spaghetti Westerns, Tarantionoesque dialogue and even films like Gladiator and Roadhouse, it may pay homage in some ways to these films but director Michael Matthews and writer Sean Drummond put their own unique stamp on it and for a western movie-goer like me, I have never really seen it done like this before. Five Fingers for Marseilles subverts the genre by placing the story within the Indigenous community. We also witness really interesting character additions with a white travelling salesman and a Chinese store owner. I learned while watching the Chinese smash--Wolf Warrior 2 that China and South Africa have a rich tradition and strong history with one another. Michael Matthews was asked about his decision to add the salesman and the Chinese store owner, he replied that these are all authentic characters that you would find in a small place like the one in the film.

    Gorgeously captured by director of photography Shaun Harley Lee and beautifully directed by Michael Matthews, the film both honours westerns of the past while trailblazing its own path. I haven't seen a lot of westerns recently, but this is certainly one of the better ones of the last 30 years. This is a film that took 7 years to make, from the time of the idea to the final edit. It was a labour of love.

    There's a lot of violence and plenty of blood. It would certainly get an R rating here in Canada and the US. This is one of the areas the film excels. The direction allows the violence to percolate. It doesn't cut away from a lot of the gun shots, burning bodies, machete hacks and raw punches to the face. It's tough in that way, but it also benefits from it.

    I hope this gets a distribution deal in North America and I really hope it is remembered come Oscar night. Everything about it is top notch. Every actor was terrific, the script was superb and as mentioned the photography and direction were outstanding.