Jagun Jagun: Great cinematography but bland storytelling

By: Arc

Warning: do not watch with English audio, you will be sorry and miss out on the beauty of the Yoruba language.

The Yoruba epic cinematic universe is taking shape, Top 5 epic Yoruba movies and where to watch them, and the latest Oduduwa kingdom adventure is action-packed and deserves a 7/10. It features the usual suspects (Toyin Abraham, Asiwaju baby was shunned for bad PR?), and they did their jobs.

If you are looking for an educative cultural showcase littered with wise sayings, great visuals, and enchanting soundtracks, this is the movie for you.

Lateef Adedimeji takes his work very seriously, and we love him for it. He plays the role of Gbojita, who the story follows (supposedly). He is a young nature speaker or bender who joins an elite army led by the fearsome Ogundiji (Femi Adebayo) in hopes of becoming a mighty warrior. His sharp tongue and wits earn him the friendship and love of the warlord’s daughter as well as the warlord’s rage. Agemo, the spirit assassin and deadly force invoked to win battles and its story arc was brilliant, and the fight sequences were very well done.

This movie for all its intent, was simply a technical crew exhibition. An audition for the crew to showcase their filmmaking talent. Hey! Look at all the cool shots we captured, Gbojita running up the hill at sunset (it did not exactly fit at the time, maybe as an introductory shot), multiple drone shots, and see how well we captured the fight sequences. Oh, look at these lovely costumes. All superbly done, kudos! However, little energy was reserved for storytelling.

The storytelling was laid back, just like Anikulakpo’s, with trust in the audience to get it. It seems true that we are excellent at grabbing attention (Tik-Tok era) but struggle with storytelling. I was watching a slide show presentation of kingdoms and multiple stories while trusting my imagination to draw the connecting lines (would have been easier for the movie to help me along, they had a “narrating voice”). Epic movies need an epic story that makes you feel things to carry it (RE: Elesin Oba, Ben Hur, Braveheart, Gladiator). Would it have been easier to follow Gbojita and spend more time on his story?

What was Ogundiji’s purpose or motivation as a mercenary for illegitimate kings? Was he the King of Kings? Kingdoms are at war just because. Maybe that is the message, some men just want to watch the world burn.

Did the lady seeking revenge for her lover get closure?

What becomes of the illegitimate kings?

The door is open for a sequel. At the end of the day, commercial success is the only yardstick that counts in Nollywood, and my score does not.

The graphics and effects were slightly better than 1958’s The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, and I acknowledge that these are hard shots to create, still, I ask for close to the best at the following effects:

  • Agemo’s dance
  • Odunlade’s hand cut in the opening scene
  • Spear bend through the body
  • Arrow moving straight through hoops (not correcting its path), and
  • Sinking coffin (a waterproof camera, an actual coffin lowered underwater, and explosives would have done the trick).

Are the equipment too expensive and beyond our reach or are we too proud to register for filmmaking classes?

Full marks for the political commentary at the end. Mr Macaroni tweeted, “The youths must unite and stop fighting and killing themselves for politicians who protect their own children…Wake up my people, do not die in their war.” We cannot expect any help from our oppressor’s wife as she is part and parcel of his evil and will never aid our cause.

Please log on to Netflix (do not be shy to reach out to that ex for the password) and watch this movie. With greater stream numbers comes greater reward and responsibility to keep pushing the boundaries. Cheers to getting better and better.

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