South African director Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City trailer was recently released. The film is the director’s fourth feature film and I’m particularly excited about this one because it’s a boxing/crime movie. Boxing movies have always been one of my favorites, from the earlier Rocky franchises to the recent Creed reboots, from Antoine Fuqua’s South Paw to David O. Russell’s The Fighter and many others.
Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City is a slice of street life in South Africa’s Mdantsane township, known as the boxing mecca of South Africa. Knuckle City follows the journey of Dudu Nyakama (Bongile Mantsai), a down and out aging boxer as he struggles to attain the one fight that he believes will uplift his fractured family. Contending that the underbelly of the boxing world is rife with criminality, Dudu unwittingly enlists the help of his reckless but resourceful, gangster brother who’s coming out of jail. Haunted by the ghost of their father, Dudu soon finds that the fight at home is far more challenging than any opponent he can possibly face in the ring.
Qubeka explains in his director’s statement that this is his first film set in the area that raised him. Knuckle City is not only his ode to his formative years, but was also inspired by the fighting/crime films including Raging Bull, Fighter, Rocky and Mean Streets—all of which chronicle the coming-of-age journey to manhood. It’s his effort to give South Africa its well-deserved boxing film.
“Growing up in the township of Mdantsane in the 80s and 90s was an experience that has shaped the entirety of my life,” he says. “The energy of the landscape and the visceral fight for survival that is palpable on the streets has inspired in me a deep yearning to chronicle the lives of its inhabitants through cinema.”
“It is my intention to capture the essence of life in Mdantsane and the restless pursuit of being a champion within a society that often dictates you are a failure. I am determined with this film to give audiences a glimpse into a world rarely seen, and a deeper understanding of the multi-faceted individuals inhabiting our land.”
Jahmil X.T. Qubeka’s Knuckle City is presented by Mzansi Magic and Yellowbone Entertainment; helmed by Layla Swartas its producer and editor.
Watch the chilling and riveting trailer below.