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Monday, March 11, 2019

RICH GIRL -- DVD Review by Porfle

Anyone who's read my other reviews of IndiePix's "Retro Afrika" series knows how much I enjoy these modestly-produced (to say the least), wildly amateurish attempts at filmmaking which, in their earnest but inept efforts to entertain, can't help but warm my heart with "so bad it's good" goodness.

Tonie van der Merwe's RICH GIRL (1990) is no exception.  The director who gave us ISIBOSHWA and FISHY STONES is back with another tale starring Innocent "Popo" Gumede (ISIBOSHWA, HOSTAGE, FISHY STONES, UMBANGO) as a bodyguard hired to protect a headstrong rich girl named Charlotte (Lungi Mdlala) and Hector Methanda (THE COMEDIANS, UMBANGO, FISHY STONES, GONE CRAZY) as the leader of a bumbling pair of kidnappers who want to abduct Charlotte and demand a hefty ransom from her money-bags papa.

As you'll recall, these films were produced for black audiences (in a South Africa where apartheid prevented them access to mainstream cinemas) and are now being rescued and restored.  "Popo" Gumede plays his usual handsome leading man type here as he does in several such films, while the undisputed clown prince of "Retro Afrika" cinema, Hector Methanda, continues to be the most entertaining thing about any film he's in whenever he's on the screen.

The production values are predictably rock-bottom as are the technical skills of all involved (save for a fairly good cast).  It's as though people who'd never seen a motion picture before were given filmmaking equipment and told to make movies. 

Adding to this is a score consisting mainly of a backdrop of generic disco/funk music plunking away during almost every scene. The results of all this are, for me, deliciously entertaining in their own uniquely special sort of way. 

Lungi Mdlala's Charlotte is the typical spoiled rich girl who chafes at the constant presence of her hired watchdog.  When she isn't lounging around a drab-looking pool (which seems to be filled with swamp water) in a frumpy robe, she's milling about in an art gallery in an interminable scene (which features one of the few white actors to appear in these movies) before deciding to purchase their entire stock.

During one of her tirades against him, Popo suddenly professes his love for her in an explosive, almost violent manner that's borderline hilarious. It's at this moment that Methanda enters the picture with gun drawn and abducts them both, taking them to a secluded cottage along with his accomplice.

Whatever stretches of boredom there might've been up till this point disappear when Hector Methanda hits the screen.  Whether wielding his gun with a gap-toothed grin, relishing his dominance over his captives, or browbeating his peabrained partner, Methanda always seems to be having a ball chewing the scenery and apparently ad-libbing much of his dialogue in order to make his character more interesting and funny. 

Once Popo escapes the room where he and Charlotte have been imprisoned and takes on his two captors, director Tonie van der Merwe actually manages to generate some suspense. 

An outdoor gunfight between Popo and Hector utilizes much slow-motion and, surprisingly, some actual squibs in a scene so archly done that it almost looks like something out of "Police Squad!"  Things get wrapped up in satisfactory fashion at the end, and the short-and-sweet action tale (less than 70 minutes) coasts to a pleasant halt.

As usual, I have to add a disclaimer to my review of this "Retro Afrika" title: if you don't love bad movies, and require a certain level of technical sophistication in your viewing fare that must be maintained, then this movie is not for you. But if you do love bad movies--and I mean "bad" in an entertaining, earnest, and ultimately endearing way--then RICH GIRL is heartily recommended. 

Buy it at

Buy it at IndiePix

Format: Color, NTSC
Language: English
Subtitles: English
Region: All Regions
Number of discs: 1
Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Indiepix Films
DVD Release Date: March 12, 2019
Run Time: 70 minutes
Bonus: Trailer


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