Movie Review: Viva Riva! (2010)
“Kinshasa is calling”
Viva Riva! (2010)
Director: Djo Tunda Wa Munga
Cast: Patsha Bay, Manie Malone, Diplome Amekindra
Synopsis: A smuggler in possession of illicit fuel finds rivals closing in on his stash.
The main character in Viva Riva! is a young criminal who has successfully hijacked a cargo of fuel which he has smuggled into the city of Kinshasa, where there is a desperate shortage. Riva (Patsha Bay) hides his illicit contraband, waiting for the price to peak before selling it on. However, while he waits for the right moment to sell, the police and the gangster he stole it from are closing in.
Viva Riva! received wider attention than is usual for an African movie, so it seemed only reasonable to assume this extra attention was because it was superior to most of the material coming out of that continent. To some degree that’s true: the film boasts comparatively good production values, is professionally made and the acting is passable. The trouble is in the storyline, which provides us with a cast of stock genre stereotypes, every one of whom is completely beyond redemption. For this reason it’s impossible to care about what happens to them – which is just as well because I’m pretty sure they all die by the film’s end.
Viva Riva! most closely resembles an American 1970s exploitation flick because of its excessive gunplay, gratuitous sex scenes and lack of a moral compass. The characters are fairly one-dimensional, and the villains Riva encounters are either impotent – flame-haired Nora’ s ineffectual boyfriend – or borderline comical.
(Reviewed 10th January 2012)