The Nigerian cinematic landscape is currently flooded with films dominantly oozing with a flavour of comedy or romance in its storyline, leaving movie goers with little to nothing in the action film category. Of course, it has been a while since movie junkies have been thrilled to Nollywood action blockbusters and when eventually they get a taste, they never fail to voice their distaste on the poor turnout.
The typical Nollywood action flick is plagued with poor choreography, weak projection of stunts and an often long, unrequired dialogue between the protagonist and antagonist which ultimately bores its audience, draining any intended suspense in the process.
In ‘Slow Country,’ a romantic-action movie, producer Eric Aghimien breaks these mediocre stereotypes. In his movie he details the basics of what an action flick should look like, feel like and sound like.
Aghimien recruited the help of lead actors Ivie Okujaye- ‘Sambasa’ Nzeribe Egboh, Tope Tedela and Chiedozie from his first feature ‘A Mile Away From Home,’ thus giving him a more comfortable approach on handling things and expanding the scope of his creativity.
Set in an urban area, Aghimien crafts a romantic tale dipped in a hot pot of viscous conflict revolving round the travails of a single mother faced with a dilemma of watching her son die, an unforgiving druglord and a father who bumps into his lost love and is determined to win back her love.
A villainous role in any circumstance requires the right dose of stealth and ruthlessness. Possessing both earns reverence and adoration from a bunch of willing minions. Sambasa Nzeribe who played Tuvi aptly embodies these two qualities.
Earlier this year, Sambasa won the AMVCA award for Best Male Actor over Ramsey Noah who played the role of the resilient Captain Dewa in the movie ’76.’ His victory came as a surprise mostly because ‘Slow Country’ wasn’t released to the public at the time. His win elicited anticipation in the audience about what his role and movie were about. Indeed, he deserved the award for his reproduction was expertly done and very evident in his demeanour, his bass voice and general detachment.
A vile druglord, Tuvi made his mother, Kome (Ivie) pander to his whims and caprices and deftly lured her into prostitution and drug trafficking.
Ivie on the other hand struggled to interpret her character. She failed to show the chemistry that exists between her and her son. Struggling with expressing her emotions, she might easily be passed for an aunt instead of a loving and endearing mother. Throughout the entire run, there seemed to be an imaginary space between the two, she cared as much as she could but not as naturally as she could have. This is in no way saying she was poor with the role of playing mother, it only goes to say that she pumped more energy into playing mistress and broker at drug deals. Moreso, she was also destabilized by the sudden re-emergence of her estranged boyfriend and father of her son, Osas (Tedela).
Tedela unleashes his charm in this movie. He meticulously brought Osas to life with his exceptional acting skills. With ‘Slow Country’ panning out to be a ‘love fairytale’ in its right; Osas would later battle his way through to win back his first love, encountering rejection and then facing a bigger monster in the person of Tuvi.
Did ‘Slow Country’ meet expectations? The answer remains ‘yes.’
Excelling with his story telling style, Aghimien further takes it up a notch with perfected stunts and film special effects. Stunts and special effects are poorly applied in most Nollywood servings but same cannot be said for ‘Slow Country.’
Ricocheting bullets, indentations made on cars, broken glasses and crafty makeup that will mislead anyone into believing in the unreal is what Aghimien layers his film with, pleasuring the senses to Hollywood make-believe but in a more relatable African context.
Aghimien versatility is key ingredient to the movies’ impending success at the box office. It gives a feel of thoroughness, a well thought out attempt at telling a story with little detection of struggle. Having in mind the outcome of his vision, he personally trained each actor. A lot has been said about him been a perfectionist and he continues being one. A particular scene marking the climax was shot for a period of 3 days, with multiple takes.