Just when the sheen on Die Antwoord’s mystique was fading, they go and make a great little movie with Harmony Korine — and totally draw us in again. The South African rap crew has been talking up a movie since Vulture first made contact, almost exactly a year ago now. At the time, it was rumored to be a full-length directed by District 9’s Neill Blomkamp that was to tell the tale of Die Antwoord’s fruition, and sounded utterly far-fetched. We never should have doubted them: even if it wasn’t with Blomkamp, they did manage to make their movie.
Since their first splash of promise-filled Internet infamy, it’s been a mixed bag for the duo: They played warmly received live shows and signed to Interscope, but each successive purportedly shocking video seemed to diminish the appeal of their are-they-or-aren’t-they-a-concept-joke shtick. Considering the trajectory, Korine’s Umshimi Wam (translated as Bring Me My Machine Gun) is a great move for the band. Not only is it a thoroughly engaging fifteen minutes, full of balloons and holograms and gun shots, but it smartly stirs up the Die Antwoord argument.
Ninja and Yo-Landi play aspiring thugs who roll around the suburbs in wheelchairs, strapped with Uzis, talking about taking their “shit to the next level.” Ultimately, with a string of violent robberies, they do. That, as originally promised, does mirror the story of Die Antwoord, at least the way they tell it: That, after years of bumming around the South African music scene in various incarnations, they tapped into their inner “Zef” and launched the internationally famous Die Antwoord. At one point in the movie, Ninja is recounting a dream in which he “was, like, the greatest rapper in the whole fucking world. The whole fucking universe, actually. And, like, I drove through the hood in my electric wheelchair.” Yes, he’s obviously in on the joke. It’s still a really nice moment, though.