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The BangBang Club

51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on the acclaimed memoir by Greg Marinovich and João Silva

As apartheid comes to a violent end, four fearless photographers - Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach) and João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld) - bonded by their friendship and a sense of purpose, risk their lives to capture the bloody struggle and expose the truth.

Bonus Features:
Making-of featurette, Audio commentary with director Steven Silver, Deleted Scenes, Short film by Kgosi Mongake, Slideshow.

Screenwriter-director Steven Silver aspires to pose, if not exactly answer, some serious questions in his 2010 film The Bang Bang Club. What is the role of photographers during a time of war? Are they merely journalists and observers whose only duty is to use their cameras to let the world see what they have witnessed in the flesh? Or, when they see violence and suffering, do they have a responsibility to get involved and try to help those in need? The titular "club" refers to four photographers--Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe), Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch), Ken Oosterbroek (Frank Rautenbach), and João Silva (Neels Van Jaarsveld)--who, in the early to mid '90s, when the South African system of apartheid was in its death throes, worked together to chronicle the violence and upheaval leading up to the 1994 election of Nelson Mandela as president (the film is based on a memoir written by Marinovich and Silva). This isn't quite The Hurt Locker for shutterbugs--they're taking photos, not defusing bombs--but their work is risky and dangerous, potentially fatally so, as they thrust themselves into the middle of chaotic clashes between forces backed by the government (including Inkatha Zulu warriors) and those in support of Mandela's African National Congress. Pulitzers are won, but not without accompanying criticism. One black character describes their work as "white photographers making money off the blood of South Africa," while one of Marinovich's prize-winning shots is derided as "a white man's photo taken for white men's purposes"; they also have to defend their decisions not to intervene in some of the more horrific scenes they recorded, while attempting to keep the police's hands off their work as well. It's all rather compelling, at least in the film's latter half, but Silver mitigates the impact by first depicting these heroes as self-involved young daredevil studs with hot, hard-bodied girlfriends on hand to ease the pain (shades of Top Gun, although not nearly as frivolous). All in all, a worthy study of some conflicted men whose job, as one of them puts it, was mainly to "sit there and watch people die." --Sam Graham

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ryan Phillipe, Malin Akerman, Taylor Kitsch, Steven Silver
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Entertainment One
  • DVD Release Date: August 16, 2011
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0052T1EF4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #61,893 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
From a technical perspective, Steven Silver's "The Bang Bang Club" is a film that seems easy to love. Filled with grittily realistic action, earnest performances, and a topic that is inherently fascinating and dramatic--this had all the potential in the world. Covering the true story of a notorious group of photojournalists that immersed themselves in war-torn South Africa during the violent post-Apartheid era, these correspondents lived their lives on the front lines as the country unraveled in preparing for free elections. The danger, the pain, the thrills--it was a world unlike any other, but they thrived and excelled in the environment (two won Pulitzer prizes for their photos). But it also took a toll. The moral questions that arise when you report on atrocity but do nothing to stop it is certainly one of the weightier issues that might be explored in a biographical picture of this sort. And yet despite this fantastic source material, Silver's film seems strangely muted and impersonal.

Without a doubt, I think this subject matter might have made for one of the most harrowing and powerful films of the year. Ryan Phillippe plays the lead, who begins the narrative as a new freelance photographer to the area. He immediately makes his mark as, against all better judgement, he wanders into a Zulu encampment and captures some incredibly intimate photos from the inside. His recklessness and bravado endear him to an established group of journalists, and they become fast friends. With Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) and Malin Akerman as the other more known names in the cast, everyone does well with the material that they are given--but something is missing. The screenplay never really lets us get close to the protagonists.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By DVD Verdict on August 17, 2011
Format: Blu-ray
Judge Josh Rode, DVD Verdict-- The Bang Bang Club doesn't have a strong narrative arc; it is more a group character study than a true story. The summation of the film is this: novice photographer Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe, Flags of Our Fathers) makes a name for himself by going where few would dare to tread--into a Zulu compound--and witnesses the brutal slaying of an outsider. His bold move gets him a spot with The Star newspaper, and soon he is whizzing around South Africa with three other photographers. They spend their days finding all the hot spots and clicking away with their cameras at everything they see. But the more pictures of death and despair they take, the more walled off they get from their emotions and the people around them.

There's a fine line between chronicling events and being a part of them; lacking a traditional plot, this dichotomy is what carries the film forward. Greg is present when a man is executed. He tries to stop it, but his protests only make him a target, and he finds himself helpless to do anything but take pictures as the victim is set on fire and then chopped down with a machete. The resulting picture wins him a Pulitzer...and haunts him every day.

The other photographers are immersed in the same situation and deal with it in their own ways. Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) turns to drugs and alcohol, only to find that they add to his problems instead of alleviating them. He wins his own Pulitzer when he takes a shot of a child apparently being stalked by a vulture, but his joy of winning is quickly tempered by the hordes of people denouncing him for taking pictures instead of helping.

Silver does a fantastic job of finding the balance to keep the film moving without dipping into cynicism.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tommy Dooley TOP 500 REVIEWER on December 30, 2011
Format: DVD
This is the s true story of a group of photo journalists, who came to fame during the civil war that saw South Africa finally end apartheid. It is based on the book of one of them; Greg Marinovich (Ryan Phillippe - `54', `Cruel Intentions' and `The Lincoln Lawyer'). Greg was a freelance but managed to get taken seriously by getting up close and personal with the warring sides. The ANC were in a civil war with the `Authorities' who were being helped by the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Movement. Atrocities were being perpetrated by both sides, but the press was very much on the side of the ANC and working to strict censorship from the ruling white government. Greg went out of his way to hear what Inkatha ha to say - and show him, it is not all pleasant.

We follow the fortunes of Greg and one of the more laid back members of the `gang', Kevin Carter (Taylor Kitsch) who has a penchant for recreational cigarettes and an excellent eye for a good photo. Greg also falls for the Photo Editor - Robin Comley (Malin Akerman) something which she says she never does. In one scene as they enter a bar there is a poster that proclaims, `A Civil War s not Very Relaxing', well we soon find out why. There are graphic scenes of violence, with extensive use of machetes and not a lot being left to the imagination. There is real tension throughout and loads of extras involved in the street and ghetto fighting. Writer and director Steven Silver has done an excellent job to try to recreate the actions that took place and are both from the book and the actual original photos.

The film tracks mainly the four year period between 1990 and 1994 and for the most part does so as observer with an interloper feel.
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