Sports dramas have always been a source of inspiration for people across the globe. Their capacity to elicit powerful emotions and prompt introspection is unmatched.
A new South African film, The Queenstown Kings, is now streaming on Netflix.
It revolves around Football and aims to be inspiring enough in its 137-minute runtime.
I have been a fan of action films from Africa. Will a sports drama be equally satisfying? Here’s what I think.
The Queenstown Kings Synopsis
A famous footballer returns to his childhood village upon his father’s demise. He must now coach the local football team while trying to make amends with his only son.
Directed by Jahmil X.T. Qubeka, the movie stars Zolisa Xaluva (Terror), Likhona Mgali (Fezile), Unathi Faku (Fana), Tessa Twala (Boity), Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa (Xoliswa), Thokozile Ntshinga (Sasa), Patrick Ndlovu (Mkhulu), and others.
What Works for The Queenstown Kings?
The South African film is realistic, which is a rare sight in sports dramas.
The characters are imbued with a local authenticity that grounds the narrative, particularly in the context of a small village, the ancestral home of the revered footballer, Mkhulu.
When he dies while watching his grandson Fezile’s match, the whole place goes into mourning.
His son, Terror, another popular soccer player, returns to the village. However, due to his shady past with his wife, Fezile refuses to give him the place of his Dad.
Fezile plays for Queenstown Kings, the local football team.
Terror, in an attempt to save himself from getting prosecuted in a drink and driving case, promises the court that he would work for the community by sharing his football knowledge with the team as an Assistant Coach.
This creates friction between him, his ex-wife’s husband – who happens to be the present coach of the team – and Fezile.
The premise is not unique enough to woo the viewer.
However, the depiction of relationships in the African context, the authentic display of an understated football team, and the conviction to choose natural progression over cinematic dynamite auger well for The Kings of Queensland.
It doesn’t aim to pretentiously produce emotions, a factor synonymous with sports dramas. The movie allows for the story to do its job, without trying to be intrusive.
Moreover, I loved the non-lavish setup, where the football ground didn’t have any grass and the actors perfectly embodied locals while playing matches.
There’s a scene in which the Kings of Queensland tour another village to play a game and the on-ground quarrels force them to run away home.
Again, these sincere moments drive this South African film. You never see the camera interrupt the scene with extreme close-ups.
Instead, wide-angle shots do the talking to maintain continuity.
How are the Performances?
Zolisa Xaluva portrays Buyile Terror Mahamba in The Kings of Queensland. He plays the anchor’s role and steadies the ship with an experienced skillset.
The traces of roughness in his countenance allow for the movie to be dynamic.
Likhona Mgali expresses himself beautifully as Fezile. His screen maneuvering is satisfying while the subtle emotional inferences demand applause.
The actor brings a sportsman’s energy into The Kings of Queensland and remains vigorous throughout.
Unathi Faku plays Fana and his ear-splitting demeanor creates positive ripples in the screenplay of the film.
Initially, it is hard to imagine how fierce or angry his character would become at the end.
What Doesn’t Work for The Queenstown Kings?
The movie is not inspiring. It lacks the inherent ability to uplift you. I understand being natural and authentic is extremely important.
Still, you have to inspire the audience at the end of the day when you are making a sports drama.
It is the primary objective of any film in the genre. The Queenstown Kings ends on an amazing note and I don’t want to take anything away from the makers.
However, it is the journey before the ending they needed to ace. Why? Because we have had innumerable sports dramas over the past year.
All of them had the same moment The Queenstown Kings has. But they were effective because of the foundation they laid early on in the plot.
Additionally, the background score’s lack of energy is a noticeable drawback.
The absence of a compelling anthem or musical motif diminishes the film’s ability to assert itself in the broader cinematic landscape.
In a genre where emotional resonance is paramount, a more impactful musical backdrop could have elevated the overall viewing experience.
Stream or Skip?
The Queenstown Kings is watchable and you can go for it. On the flip side, if your aim is to get inspired, this might not be the ideal choice.