Zulu (2013 film)

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Zulu poster.jpg
Film poster
Directed byJérôme Salle
Produced byRichard Grandpierre
Written byCaryl Ferey
Julien Rappeneau
Jérôme Salle
StarringOrlando Bloom
Forest Whitaker
Music byAlexandre Desplat
CinematographyDenis Rouden
Edited byStan Collet
Distributed byPathé
Release date
  • 26 May 2013 (2013-05-26) (Cannes)
  • 6 November 2013 (2013-11-06) (France)
Running time
110 minutes
  • France
  • South Africa[1]
Budget$16 million[2]
Box office$2.6 million[3]

Zulu is a 2013 crime film directed by Jérôme Salle and starring Orlando Bloom and Forest Whitaker. It was selected as the closing film at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.[4][5] The film is partly based on Project Coast, the program for biological and chemical weapons of the South African apartheid regime, and the book Zulu by author Caryl Férey, winner of the French Grand Prix for Best Crime Novel of 2008.


As a child in Cape Town, Ali Sokhela (Forest Whitaker) witnesses the murder of his father and rape of his mother Josephina by marauders. On that day, Ali was also rendered a eunuch after a dog savaged his genitals. In present day, Ali has become a homicide detective of the South African Police, partnered with fellow detectives Brian Epkeen (Orlando Bloom) and Dan Fletcher (Conrad Kemp). The men are called to investigate the murder of Judith Botha, a young woman found in the local Botanical Gardens, only to uncover that Judith was alive and her best friend Nicole Weiss was the victim, having been found with Judith’s ID and had been bludgeoned to death. While interviewed, Judith claimed that Nicole had spent the evening with her boyfriend. While driving home, Ali encounters two young boys violently fighting, but they both flee after he defuses the fight. Ali finds a powdered substance at the scene, which he later uncovers was a new form of toke, a psychologically manipulating drug. Meanwhile, Brian was revealed to be indulged in a divorce from his ex-wife Ruby, while his teenage son David had grown distant from him, due to Brian's bachelor lifestyle, heavy debt and addiction to gambling and alcohol.

Ali confronts exotic dancer Zina at her club "Sundance", but she identifies Nicole's boyfriend as Stan Kwalana, a local drug dealer, while the department secretary Janet traces Nicole's phone to Muizenberg Beach. Upon arriving, Ali, Brian and Dan are attacked by a band of criminals, who proceed to mortally wound Dan with a machete, though Ali and Brian kill the remnants; Dan later dies in hospital, leaving his wife Claire grief stricken and she cuts connections with the CTPD. Following Dan's funeral, Ali is assigned by CTPD Captain Paul Kruger to investigate Cat, a crime lord with connections to Dan's killers, but he denies knowledge of the crime. Cat was later revealed to be the manufacturer of the toke and Stan, having overdosed on the drug had unintentionally killed Nicole in a fit of blind rage, was his unwilling accomplice.

The following day, another woman Kate Montgomery, the wife of a famous jazz musician, is found murdered in the same fashion as Nicole on Long Island Beach; Ali and Brian uncover the Zulu warrior message "Bazukala" carved upon her chest. Later that same day, Stan's severed head is recovered. Ali and Brian once again confronted Cat, but suddenly, the same criminals from Muizenberg Beach attack his hideout, killing several of his men; Ali and Brian pursued the criminals, but they are killed by Cat's thugs and Ali is wounded during the pursuit. Brian returns to the precinct and uncovered that Stan had been labelled as Nicole and Kate's killer, but Brian refused to believe the case was closed. Later, Brian visits local ranger Tara, who revealed she had seen a military jeep parked outside of Muizenberg Beach at the time of Dan's murder.

Without support of the CTPD, Brian and Janet privately investigated together, uncovering the identity of Doctor Joost Opperman, a former scientist of "Project Coast", which intended to unleash biological weaponry to be used against the Soviet Union during the Cold War, but many scientists had also vowed to eradicate the black population of South Africa, believing them to be responsible for the uprising of crime and poverty; Brian suspected Opperman had manufactured the toke to achieve his goal. Aware of their connections to Project Coast, Brian infiltrates the headquarters of the DPS, a private militia headed by Frank De Beer; Brian labels one of the vehicles as the same one found at Muizenberg Beach the day of Dan's death, confirming their involvement with Opperman. Later that day, Josephine is murdered in her home by Cat, having been informed of the investigation by Ali. Upon hearing of his mother's death, Ali learns from Cat's mistress that he had retreated to the Namib Desert with Opperman; fuelled with rage, Ali flies to Namibia to hunt down Cat.

Upon gathering the evidence to prosecute Opperman, Brian received word that Ruby and her husband Rick had been taken captive by De Beer, demanding Brian relinquish the evidence in exchange for their lives. Upon arriving, Brian is captured and beaten, while Rick is executed for attempting to bribe his own freedom. After De Beer departs for Namibia, Brian breaks free and kills the resident agents, saving Ruby; the evidence confirmed that De Beer had murdered Kate, another user of the toke to frame Stan for their deeds, while Cat had killed Stan on Opperman's orders. Ali and Brian arrive outside Oppermn's headquarters in the Namib Desert, where a shootout begins; in the process, Brian captures and arrests De Beer, while Ali kills Cat, but is shot in the process. Opperman flees across the desert, but Ali pursues him until morning, leading each other to exhaustion. Upon capturing him, Ali bludgeons Opperman to death, before succumbing to his wound and dying. Brian and a police unit arrive on the scene and recover Ali's body to be buried.

Upon returning to Cape Town, Brian buries Ali and reinstates himself at the CTPD, while proceeding to better his life by making amends with David and having the tombstone of his father repaired.



The film premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on 26 May as the closing night film.[6] It later opened in France on 4 December 2013. In South Africa, the film was renamed as City of Violence.[7]

Following the premiere at Cannes, the film was picked up for U.S. distribution by the Weinstein Co.[8] However, as of 2017, the film does not have a U.S. release date. Director Jérôme Salle announced that Harvey Weinstein has yet to release it because he probably thought it was "too SA for US audiences."[9]

The film has been released on Netflix as Cape Town Cops.


  1. ^ "Zulu". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 4 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Zulu (2013)". The Numbers. Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  3. ^ "Zulu (2013)". Retrieved 16 January 2016.
  4. ^ "'Zulu' to Close Cannes Film Festival". Variety. Reed Business Information. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  5. ^ "Orlando Bloom thriller to close Cannes film festival". BBC News. BBC. 12 April 2013. Retrieved 12 April 2013.
  6. ^ Keslassy, Elsa (12 April 2013). "'Zulu' to Close Cannes Film Festival". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  7. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. "Forest Whitaker, Orlando Bloom Crime Drama 'Zulu' Gets a New Release Trailer, Poster + Title Change - IndieWire". www.indiewire.com. Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  8. ^ Barraclough, Leo (24 May 2013). "Pathe Closes Further Sales for Cannes Slate". Retrieved 25 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Jérôme Salle on Twitter". Retrieved 25 May 2017.

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