Tsotsi (Thug)


Tsotsi (Thug)

Critics Consensus

Chweneyagae's powerful performance carries this simple yet searing tale of a shantytown teenager's redemption.



Reviews Counted: 129

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 39,181


All Critics | Top Critics
Average Rating: N/A
Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3.8/5

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Movie Info

An amoral teenager develops an unexpected paternal side in this powerful drama from South Africa. Tsotsi (Presley Chweneyagae) is the street name used by a young Johannesburg delinquent who has taken to a life of crime in order to support himself. Tsotsi comes from a blighted upbringing -- his mother died slowly from AIDS-related illnesses, and his father was torturously abusive -- and he has developed a talent for violence borne of necessity as well as taking strange pleasure in hurting other people. One evening, Tsotsi shoots a woman while stealing her car, and only later discovers that her infant son is in the back seat. Uncertain of what to do with the baby, Tsotsi takes the boy home and tries to care for it -- going so far as to force Miriam (Terry Pheto), a single mother living nearby, to nurse the baby. With time, Tsotsi learns the basics of child care, and the presence of the baby awakens a sense of humanity in him that life on the street had stripped away. Tsotsi was adapted from a novel by the award-winning South African writer Athol Fugard.

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Critic Reviews for Tsotsi (Thug)

All Critics (129) | Top Critics (35)

  • It is a first peek at a South Africa that doesn't need a Hollywood studio or Hollywood stars to present itself to the world, or to come to grips with itself at home.

    Apr 7, 2006 | Rating: 4/5
  • Unfolds in such clear-eyed, powerful fashion that its characters become unforgettable, and the movie lands a big-time emotional punch.

    Mar 24, 2006 | Rating: B+
  • To feel the full power of the movie's wrenching story, you must not rush to judge or embrace young Tsotsi. He is an enigma whose journey is the story.

    Mar 24, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A deeply moving portrait of a human being, suffering in life and not having any handle on how to deal with it. It's tragedy, not melodrama.

    Mar 24, 2006 | Rating: 4/5
  • The picture can be squishy and obvious. Yet it works, thanks to Gavin Hood's straightforward, sensitive direction and his star's emotionally charged performance.

    Mar 23, 2006 | Rating: B+
  • This deceptively simple movie brings to mind Italian neo-realist classics of the 1940s, and Presley Chweneyagae, an amateur actor, is wholly convincing as the disoriented Tsotsi.

    Mar 18, 2006 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Tsotsi (Thug)

A hard-hearted street thug accidentally kidnaps a baby and must care for him. A basic morality tale, Tsotsi hits all the right notes in a maudlin song. The healing power of love, the innocence of childhood, the permanence/importance of parental love -- all the usual themes are stuffed in this film. Added to this is the simplistic explanation for Tsotsi's behavior, his abandonment by he parents. Overall, it's all a cliche, but it's a well done cliche.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

This essentially simple story becomes a genuinely astounding film: bolstered by raw and engaging performances, thoughtfully directed and filmed. Utterly captivating.

Louis Rogers
Louis Rogers

Super Reviewer

This is an alright movie to be honest its completely in subtitles but dont et that put you of! If i compared it to anothr movie it would be similar to kidulthood/adulthood just that its based in south africa jonaahburg, but along te same line its just about a poor group of lads who have no way of iving apart from resulting to crime and this one day tsotsi steals a car which turns ut to have a baby in the back and he must do the right thing so it leads him on a journey of rights and wrongs and we see th horrible unbringing hes had in life and its quite a captivating heartwarming movie and its worth a watch though i didnt particualy like the ending but apart from that yu get to see what its like for poor people in south africa an troubles life gives tem really worth a watch!

Film Crazy
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer


Amazing, intense perfomance in the lead role - reminded me of Jimmy Cliff in The Harder They Come - the setting was fascinating, the direction solid and dynamic, killer tunes... but... i think Charlie Chaplin actually passed on this script back in 1918 - citing the "transparent, hack sentimentalism".

Bob Stinson
Bob Stinson

Super Reviewer

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