Movies & TV

Livin’ in a gangsta’s paradise? Here are the TV series and movies to match

Slick: the cast of Magic City.

If the furore over that new book by Jacques Pauw has shown us anything, it’s that the crime and corruption in TV shows and movies are closer to home than any of us would like to believe.

To distract you from the machinations and money-changing hands behind the backs of real people, here are seven enthralling series and movies about crooked cops, corrupt officials, conniving con men, ruthless Mob bosses and the victims caught in the crossfire.

1. Magic City

This series is set in 1959 in Miami Beach, Florida, where slick gangsters such as Ike Evans (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) mingle with the Cuban and American upper crust in posh hotels, including Evans’s Miramar Playa resort hotel. But under the sparkling surface, Evans is running into trouble on all fronts, including from his financial backer, Mob boss Ben “The Butcher” Diamond (Danny Huston) and the FBI. If you’re missing the vintage glamour of Mad Men, this gorgeous, dazzling, dark series is for you. Watch now »

2. The Sopranos

Tony Soprano is a Mob boss. He took over from his uncle before him, who took over from Tony’s father before that. The family have their fingers in a lot of dirty pies, and they’ll do whatever it takes not to get caught red-handed. Tony has the legacy of his father to live up to, a nephew to mentor, a mistress to hide, a wife to keep in jewels, the Feds to evade, and a pair of kids to raise. Soon, the pressure gets too much and Tony starts to see a shrink – something no Soprano has ever done before. Showmax has the full box set of this critically acclaimed series, starring the late, great James Gandolfini. Watch now »

3. iNumber Number

Both the Mzansi Magic and Showmax co-produced series and the movie on which it was based are available on Showmax. Meet disgruntled undercover cops Chilli and Shoes, who infiltrate a gang on the eve of a high-risk hijacking so they can take a cut of the loot for themselves. But they hadn’t planned on being recognised by the gangsters, nor do they have any idea how very badly the heist could go until they’re up to their necks in trouble. The series is seriously binge-worthy, and the movie is as thrilling today as it was when it was released on the big screen in 2013. Watch now »

4. Gangster’s Paradise: Jerusalema

Lucky Kunene, a petty crook in Johannesburg, starts building a criminal empire by hijacking buildings in Hillbrow. But rival gangs and corrupt cops are out to stop him in this stunning crime thriller. Rapulana Seiphemo won best-actor awards at both the Durban International Film Festival and Fespaco for his performance as Kunene. This film was an official South African entry for the Oscars and won the audience award in Durban, among other accolades. Watch now »

5. Boardwalk Empire

Atlantic City, New Jersey, the 1920s. The US is in the grips of Prohibition. It’s a time when certain shady figures can make a killing by keeping the liquor flowing – and crooked Atlantic County treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson is one of them. With film legend Martin Scorsese directing the pilot episode, acclaimed actor Steve Buscemi playing Nucky, and having been created by Terence Winter, Boardwalk Empire was bound to rake in the bling – so it’s no surprise that its five seasons won 20 Emmys, a Golden Globe and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. The full box set is available on Showmax. Watch now »

6. Gangland Undercover

Former drug dealer Charles Falco is the only person ever to infiltrate the most dangerous and notorious biker gangs in the US. This series, based on his memoir, tells of his experiences of the dark, dangerous and dirty work undertaken by members of the Vagos gang, which wields authority through fear and carry guns, deal drugs and commit murder without a second thought. Falco went deep undercover inside the gang for the first three years of his assignment and then infiltrated two more gangs to expose their crimes, suffering brutal injuries and constant terror. Both seasons are available on Showmax. Watch now »

7. The Godfather Collection

Moviegoers had no reason to expect anything great from this 1972 film, made by an inexperienced director (Francis Ford Coppola) with a cast of unknowns and a past-his-prime Marlon Brando. But it defied expectations and became one of the most influential films of all time. It centres on a New York crime family – Don Vito Corleone (Brando) and his three sons, Sonny (James Caan), firstborn and underboss; Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall), the family lawyer and Vito’s “adopted” son; and Michael (Al Pacino), the war hero who undergoes a fascinating transformation to join the family business and eventually become its ruthless boss. Also in The Godfather Collection on Showmax are The Godfather II, the only sequel yet to win an Oscar for best picture, and the controversial third film in the series. Watch now »