The internet is currently buzzing with varying opinions on Netflix‘s newly released Nollywood film, Lionheart. The Genevieve Nnaji directorial debut had its first opening at TIFF 2018 to amazing reviews and of course the Netflix deal that shot the movie to the skies as the first Nigerian Netflix Original movie. You may have missed the little drama that ensued when Nnaji brought the movie for a ‘homecoming’ opening in Nigerian cinemas and how top film distributors and some members of the Cinema board tried to stop the movie from showing. Some Cinemas defied the board and showed the movie while a major Cinema giant stood its ground and decided to ignore the newly christened ‘Nollywood Giant’. Unfortunately for the aprokos in the house, I am in no mood to deliver the hardcore gist (you can slide in to my DM if you insist) of who showed Lionheart, who didn’t and why, I’ll just get straight to the business of the day.
Verdict: 8/10 Stars
Lionheart is a highly satisfying movie especially in terms of quality. It is unarguably the best Nollywood movie released in the last decade IN TERMS OF QUALITY. Luckily for me, I got the pleasure of watching it both on the big screens and on my Netflix mobile app so take me seriously when I say that I did not see any Nollywood movie with the Lionheart picture quality especially in 2018. However, the movie also suffers some (forgivable) misses. This review will primarily draw our attention to the numerous hits of Lionheart as well as the very few misses.
It’s becoming clear that Nollywood veteran actors are making a come back and it’s really the most fascinating feature of 2018 film releases. Not only are they returning to take their rightful place, they’re doing so with a bang! Take King of Boys for instance, and how Sola Sobowale killed and is still killing the numbers.
In Lionheart, we are reunited with Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh, Kanayo O Kanayo, Onyeka Onwenu, Ngozi Ezeonu, Chika Okpala ( Chief Zebrudaya from the classic New Masquerade TV series), Steve Eboh, Frances Nsonwnu Ikoroha (Dorcas from Aki and PawPaw) and of course the lady of the moment; Genevieve Nnaji. These national treasures came together to give this film a spot in the class of Nollywood classics.
Another feat that Lionheart achieves is in its extras. The movie gathers a good number of extras to pull off the scenes that required them.
Lionheart tells the tale of Adaeze (Genevieve Nnaji), the heir apparent to a drowning transport company. She is forced to prove her onions when her father Chief Ernest Obiagu(Pete Edochie) suffers a heart attack and is restrained to his bed under the supervision of his wife, Abigail Obiagu (Onyeka Onwenu). With the help of her Uncle, Godswill Obiagu, Adaeze helps rescue Lionheart from a N950 Million debt incurred by Ernest and the crafty claws of Igwe Pascal (Kanayo O Kanayo). The movie ends with Adaeze getting her rightful spot as the CEO of Lionheart.
As a co-writer and director, Nnaji undoubtedly plays safe with the Lionheart story probably in a bid not to mess up her directorial debut.
The story is simple and unarguably exquisitely told. It’s in no way a stressful or complicated story. The message(s) explored are straightforward and the plot is not muddled up with flashbacks. The strength of the Lionheart story is in both its fusion of the Igbo, English and Hausa languages and the depth of its lines . If you pay close attention to the dialogue, you’ll notice the craftiness of the screenwriters and how they draw our attention to the rich culture, ideas including gender equality, and of course the humor.
Lionheart is a breath of fresh air and while many might argue that the plot is no stranger to Nollywood film lovers, this movie isn’t your regular Nollywood story. In its bid to explore ideas like tribal unity, some popular misconceptions about Igbos, gender equality and roles among others, the story does not fall into the trap of the over killed Nollywood plot especially the plots that Nkem Owoh and Pete Edochie are no strangers to. For one, a woman is allowed to head the family business (an uncommon practice among the Igbos) without the absence of a son.
Lionheart suffers some (forgivable) misses. The subtitle is probably its biggest. Considering that the movie relies heavily on the Igbo language, subtitling was the only way to keep the non-Igbo speaking audience abreast with the flow. Sadly, some cinemas did not show the movie with the subtitle and Netflix messed up the translation with its use of Hausa instead of Igbo to highlight subtitles when the dialogue switched to Igbo.
The story leaves a gaping question mark as to the purpose of its first scene. The scene opens to some hoodlums creating chaos. Adaeze’s attention is called and she promptly rushes to the scene. From then on, she trades words with who we can safely call the leader of the louts. The purpose of this scene is confusing. The talk about wealthy kids and settling disputes like civilized people is totally lost in the bigger picture of the story and unfortunately, the movie only gives closure to this scene with the post credit scene showing the louts turned gatekeepers arguing over whose duty it is to open the gate.
For one, its unrealistic take. However, I strongly advice that we take our heads outside realism and enjoy the message of the scene- clear-cut comic relief! Focus more on how the scene was delivered. Did they do a good job? Yes! pic.twitter.com/SlxMrX46BV
— MMReviews (@Mamazeus123) January 5, 2019
Who else noticed how subtle yet well shot the brand placement in #Lionheart was ? I give this movie my feathered cap!
— MMReviews (@Mamazeus123) January 6, 2019
Photo Credit: @Lionheartthemovie/ Instagram