Dangerous Ground review

Dangerous Ground soon abandons its culture-clash promise for the banal Hollywood Actioner approach. A real shame, because there's a potentially engrossing film in here, a movie that's much better than the routine sleaze and violence we end up with. Yes, interesting points are thrown up along the way - we see more of South Africa (the nightclubs, the high-rises, the native townships) than most of us are used to, and even get some feeling of how drugs, gangs and black-on-black crime is in danger of undoing post-apartheid good will. But you'd expect more of writer/director Roodt: this, after all, is the man who brought us Cry The Beloved Country.

Part of Dangerous Ground's problem is its standard-issue heroes-vs-wicked-druglord plot, and the rest of its problem is the casting - in particular, perennial no-hopers Ice Cube and Elizabeth Hurley. Everybody has a talent - ; Hurley's is an ability to look gorgeous in revealing designer frocks. What she doesn't have is a clue about accents, or an ounce of natural screen charm. Looking like some Goth/'80s hooker crossbreed, she's far too healthy, up-beat and glamorous to make for a convincing crack-addicted nightclub singer. That said, in her PVC micro-skirts and thigh-revealing leopard-skin jacket, the Versace queen does show a few pounds of flesh, if that's your bag.

Even worse is blank-faced rapper Ice Cube. Mr Cube is super-cool in the right part - witness his triumphant slacker in Friday (1995) - but, when it comes to playing a doctor of African Literature, he cuts a laughable figure.

In fact, only Ving Rhames is worthy of mention: he makes a charming Sadistic Druglord, and turns in the best South African accent of the non-natives on show. However, one commanding performance can't save this film. Dangerous Ground is no worse than most muddled, bullet-spitting low-budget US crime flicks, but, compared to Roodt's previous work (Sarafina!, The Stick and Cry The Beloved Country), it's a gun-slinging dud. The trendy, black-and-white MTV opening (showing Ice Cube's early life, before he was shipped off to America) hints at some potential, then declines into badly plotted chaos, Ice Cube knocking on too many nameless doors and meeting too many nasty, dodgy dealers. A neat idea disappointingly realised.

A gangland tale with a squandered twist. Liz embarrasses herself again; Ice Cube frowns again; guns go off again.

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