Movie Review: Ojukokoro (Greed) 

Screenwriter: Dare Olaitan

Cinematographer: Baba Agba

Editor: Seun P. Opabisi

Original Score: Jefferu Ekong, Samuel Onwudo Obinna

Line Producer: Queen Martins

Producer: Olufemi D. Ogunsanwo

Co-Producers: Olaniyi Olaitan, Baba Agba, Bibi Olaitan

Executive Producer: Dare Olaitan

Director: Dare Olaitan

Cast

Charles Etubiebi

Tope Tedela

Wole Ojo

Hafiz Oyetoro (Saka)

Ali Nuhu

Somkele Idhalama

Seun Ajayi

Emmanuel Ikubese

Shawn Faqua

Gbolahan Olatunde (BollyLomo)

Zainab Balogun

Kunle Remi

Linda Ejiofor

Kayode Olaiya (Aderupoko)

Lord Frank

Sammi Eddi

Production Studios: Singularity Media, House Gabriel Studios, BCI Studios

Distribution Company: FilmOne Distribution

Date Released: March 17, 2017

Language: Pidgin English, Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, Bini (Subtitled in English)

Budget: TBA

Country: Nigeria

Plot

Ojukokoro is a riveting and gripping tale, with an ensemble Cast, that revolves around the lives of the Owners and Staff of a petrol station secretly being used as a drug dealing front.

A Politician and Drug Lord, Jibril (Ali Nuhu)’s wife, Sade (Somkele Idhalama) is kidnapped by his fellow political party member and Co-Drug Lord (Lord Frank); with the help of a drug kingpin, Mad Dog (Wale Ojo), who works for both of them.

It turns out that the day the kidnap went down, happens to be the birthday of the Manager of the petrol station (Charles Etubiebi), who is also a relative of the Politician.

He pays the Politician a visit on that day only to find out about the kidnap. He insists that the Politician should involve the Police.

But the Politician disagrees with the Manager, and in order to avoid any complications decides to give the kidnapper, Mad Dog, the money he asked for, lest he kills his wife.

The Politician then wishes the Manager a happy birthday and hands him a present. The surprised Manager takes the present and leaves.

At this point, it is revealed that the Manager has lung cancer, as he began to cough up bloody phlegm just outside the house of the Politician.

The Manager struggles to drive to the petrol station and just outside the building…he is wished a happy birthday by the two security guards there (Saka) and (BollyLomo). The manager promises to celebrate the birthday.

The Manager enters the building only to find (Seun Ajayi) and (Tope Tedela) exchanging banters. After reprimanding and dishing out instructions to them, the Manager retires into his office.

The Accountant (Emmanuel Ikubese) who is in the vault counting and arranging cash proceeds from the day’s drug sales, decides to scoop a pint-sized dose of cocaine from one of the packs of cocaine on his table. He sniffs it, gets stoned, and begins to hallucinate. He hallucinates that a masquerade is dancing and making faces at him.

The Accountant soon snaps out of his hallucination when his phone rings. The call was from Mad Dog; who deceitfully tells him to package all the money in the safe for him to come and pick it up and take to their boss, the Politician. The Accountant agrees to do so.

Meanwhile in his office, the Manager reveals (via narration) that he is going to steal all the money in the safe (and use it to treat his lung cancer). He decides to add powdered laxative in his birthday cake, and then share to his staff.

The plan seemed to work as everyone who ate the cake, including the Accountant, all began to run to the toilet due to runny stomach. Thus giving the Manager ample time to steal the money. However, Sunday noticed streaks of the powdered laxative laced on his piece of cake, and refuses to eat of it.

And from this point, all hell broke loose!

CRITIQUE

The Good

I must confess that in my entire life, I have never seen a Nollywood Caper movie well put together as this one! It set out to be a Comedy Crime thriller/Caper. And it did just that with style and panache. In short, Ojukokoro nà movie wey study abroad! That is how good the movie is! Before now, Nollywood’s best caper flick, to me, was Teco Benson’s 2002 Comedy Crime thriller, “Stupid”. That’s how long we’ve had to wait!

On a more serious note. The Cinematography was well above average. Crisp and clear as any visually enthralling film should be. It was obviously shot on a 35mm HD digital camera. The lighting also helped to convey just how gritty the movie was. The colour grading which was quite minimalist in nature, further lent credence to Ojukokoro’s grim mood. The camera shot angles where also good and did justice to the movie’s strict adherence to its genre. Some of the shots seemed quite experimental, especially the close up shots. With the faces sometimes cut halfway up, leaving the nose and mouth parts in focus. The oblique/canted angle shots were also good. And the tilt shots to the clear blue sky, was very refreshing to my eyes and mind. All of these…blended in a perfect hue to give off a great cinematic feel to my eyes.

The sound was audible and clear as a clarion call. I can’t say for sure if the sound format was in DTS or Dolby Digital but it was good. Perhaps not the full Dolby Digital Surround Stereo Sound you get from Hollywood flicks, but it was optimally audible.

The Production design was well done, especially the scatological wonder that lay before me in that toilet. It was too good an eyesore, but also a clear indication that the Production Designer did a job on the set. It only further lent more credence to Ojukokoro’s gritty and grim nature. The petrol station, its building and surroundings itself, was a well put together to suit the needs of this movie. The props were well utilized. I liked the plant-and-pay off device used (the birthday present). I also liked the recurring motifs of filth and steadfast theme of lucre, in this movie.

The dialogue was very pithy and witty! You will be surprised that about 70 percent of the dialogue spoken in this film, was in local language (Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Bini, Pidgin English). The subtitle of this movie deserves its own award! It was flawless, from start to finish! A first for Nollywood.

The plot was pithy, fast paced and straight to the point. The concept and premise, original! Each character had their distinct roles clearly defined. The character development put into Emmanuel Ikubese, Shawn Faqua, Charles Etubiebi, and Seun Ajayi’s characters was good. The screenplay was expertly written. You could tell that the screenwriter, Dare Olaitan, put in a whole lot of time and work on this script. I am guessing it took him about six months or a year to come up with the final draft and shooting script.

Just like a nuclear fission frozen in time, the plot opened up explosively, introducing each character and their actions bit by bit. And like a thawed nuclear fusion, the entire plot was expertly resolved and wrapped up, with every loose ends tied by the end of the third act twist. Now that is how to write a screenplay!

I was genuinely impressed by all the actors, but the performances put up by Emmanuel Ikubese, Charles Etubiebi, Shawn Faqua, Seun Ajayi, Gbolahan Olatunde a.k.a BollyLomo, Hafiz Oyetoro a.k.a Saka, Wale Ojo, and Tope Tedela thrilled me satisfactorily.

Emmanuel Ikubese’s character as the lily-livered junkie of an Accountant, thrilled me to the point where I could literally empathize with his delirium; not that I sniff narcotics O! But I imaginarily put myself in his shoes. And trust me, it’s hilariously spooky! Lol!

Then, Shawn Faqua happened! When we say “Warri/Waffi no dey carry last”, people think sey nà joke! Shawn Faqua was the Bad Guy, and the Bad Guy was him! The way he wore his character like an Agbada, was incredibly awesome! He took his role, dispatched it, whooped its ass, give it some upper cuts, and then finally murdered it! His Waffi-Bini-esque Pidgin English was a weapon of mass destruction! Shawn Faqua is the real McCoy! His performance was Splendida!

Charles Etubiebi’s performance as the cancer-stricken Manager, with itchy fingers for filthy lucre, was just perfect. There couldn’t be a better person to have played the role than Charles! With his brooding and foreboding mien, he set the tone for what to expect in this movie.

Seun Ajayi’s performance as an Ígboro (Street-wise) guy was just awesome. He was a joy to watch. The idiosyncrasies and mannerisms that you’ll expect of an Ágbero (Tout) was delivered in a very good measure by Seun Ajayi.

The Bad

I was clearly enjoying the movie so much that I didn’t even notice a whiff of anything bad in Ojukokoro. In my opinion, there was absolutely nothing bad about this movie.

The Ugly

For those who, like me, are not very comfortable viewing scatological wonders a.k.a “Shit” on a big screen, the toilet scene is just about the only ugly thing there is about this movie. And its all for artistic purposes, and not to offend your sensibilities.

Commentary

In a time when the Nollywood movies released in the cinemas earlier this year, have offered nothing good to write home about, Dare Olaitan flies in with a swooshing cape of artistry and delivers a Caper flick that will serve as a watermark for any other Comedy Crime thriller that will ever be made in Nollywood henceforth. All I can say is, God bless You, Dare Olaitan for coming to the rescue! This is what we have been praying for. If Ojukokoro can be nominated as one of Africa’s entries for Best Foreign Language film category at the next Oscars, it will really be a thing of joy. Chineze Anyaene and the rest of the NOSC jury should please take note.

If South Africa’s Tsotsi did it as far back as 2006, then the possibilities for Ojukokoro are endless. Veteran Ace Filmmaker, Tunde Kelani once said: “if a Nigerian Filmmaker wins an Oscar tomorrow, such a film won’t be in English, but in Indigenous language”. Ojukokoro is clearly that film Tunde Kelani talked about.

Verdict

Anyone who is yet to see Ojukokoro, is on a very long thing! That is all I will say for now. I rate Ojukokoro 4.9 stars out of 5!

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