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June 06, 2011

VIVA RIVA!

VivaRivaPoster "Viva Riva!" is the kind of fast-and-loose Third World C-movie you'd expect to watch on the 10" screen of an air-conditioned public bus rounding corners on the Karakoram Highway.

Writer/director Djo Tunda packs this Congo-situated exploitation flick with so much raunchy sex and bloody violence that you barely notice the expanding plot holes he bounces over as if using a pogo stick on the Moon. Riva is a smalltime freelance gangster who has just returned to Kinshasa with many barrels of gasoline to sell. Riva has a knack for finding trouble. He's also a poor judge of character, at least based on his overpowering attraction to Nora, the fickle but sexy girlfriend of a local kingpin named Azor. Note to self: avoid gangster molls, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Riva pays no attention to the dangers that surround him as he absconds with Nora. Angolan crime boss Cesar is hot on Riva's trail to get back the gas Riva stole from him.

Every aspect of "Viva Riva!" screams of the black market conditions under which the film was made. There's an undeniable raw energy here that takes no prisoners. If you like your exploitation movies dirty, cheap, and lacking in attention to such luxuries as narrative details, "Viva Riva!" is — well — a movie for you.

Rated R. 96 mins. (B-) (Three Stars - out of five/no halves)

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