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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Death of a Snowman [a.k.a. Soul Patrol] (1978)

  • Nigel Davenport
  • Ken Gampu
  • Peter Dyneley
Shrewd and ambitious reporter Steve Chaka (an excellent performance by Ken Gampu) and his tough cop best friend Lieutenant Ben Deel (a fine portrayal by Nigel Davenport) join forces to investigate a violent series of apparent vigilante killings of master criminals in Johannesburg, South Africa. Director Christopher Rowley, working from an absorbing script by Bima Stagg, relates the involving story at a swift pace, maintains an appropriately gritty and serious tone throughout (this is the type of hard-hitting film in which a few undeserving innocent people meet abrupt brutal deaths), and stages the rousing action set pieces with real flair and skill (a spirited car chase rates as a definite stirring highlight). The loose, natural, and engaging chemistry between Gampu and Davenport really holds the picture together; they play off each other very well and sell the friendship between their characters with complete conviction. Moreover, there are sound supporting contributions from Peter Dyneley as a hard-nosed police captain, Madala Mphahlete as crafty top hood Luther "Snowman" Daniels, and, most impressive of all, screenwriter Stagg as laid-back, but lethal hit-man Johnson. The jolting moments of sudden explosive violence pack a pretty harsh punch. Fred Tammes' lively cinematography makes galvanizing use of a constantly moving camera and snazzy slow motion. The funky-digging score hits the get-down groovy spot. A worthwhile and unjustly neglected little sleeper.


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