'Knuckle City' takes a jab at toxic masculinity
Boxing flick set in the Eastern Cape is punchy, smart and engaging as it tackles universal issues
With his fourth feature, director Jahmil XT Qubeka continues to prove that he's the most cinematically innovative and envelope-pushing of present-day South African filmmakers. After the poetic period drama Sew the Winter to my Skin, Qubeka's latest film, Knuckle City, is very much a present-day, gritty examination of the legacy of toxic masculinities in the cutthroat environment of the Eastern Cape's legendary boxing world of Mdantsane.
The township holds mythical status as SA's boxing capital, but as we soon realise through the story of fictional anti-hero Dudu Nyakama (Bongile Mantsai). It's also an oppressive space of poverty, violence and social upheaval. Dudu is an aging boxer who finds himself stuck with the consequences of his womanising and entitlement, unable to get a low-level card fight and useful only for the training he can offer to younger, hungrier and more talented newcomers...