The Gangster of Khinshasa: Viva Riva!
A fairly conventional gangster movie set in an unconventional locale, VIva Riva! is a tale of two halves. The first half of the film, set in Khinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, moves briskly and feels fresh. The audience is introduced to Riva, a freewheeling and fun-loving gangster who delivers a truckload of petrol to the city. Since gasoline is in such short supply in the capital, his load lands Riva a windfall of cash, which he promptly spends on bubbly at the club.
Hot on his tail is Cesar, a gangster from Angola with a loping gait that screams “evil”, is hellbent on locating Riva and the truckload of petrol, which Riva apparently secured in a less than honorable fashion. The film is carried by Riva (Patasha Bay) and his likable personality, with numerous sex scenes mixed in for good measure. Once a love story sub plot has runs its course, however, writer/director Djo Munga’s script gets bogged down by excessive violence and predictable plot twists.
Still, Viva Riva! is noteworthy for casting a light on a world ruled by poverty, corruption, sex, and money. Action movie clichés aside, it’s quite a ride.