It’s a wonderful Happy New Year from me to you guys!!! It’s the 5th Day of the first month in the year 2019 and it gives me so much joy knowing that the first blogpost of the year is on one of my favorite things to do – see movies. So, today’s post is not just any movie review but Netflix’s First Original Film from Nigeria, Lion Heart – a Directorial debut of one of Nigeria and Africa’s finest actor, Genevieve Nnaji. Suffice it to say that I’ve been a Genevieve Nnaji fan since Blood Sisters and Sharon Stone days through Letters to A Stranger, Warrior’s Heart, Ije, Tango with Me, Half of a Yellow Sun, etc. and I must say that it has been an enjoyable privilege watching and being inspired by her. This is one woman whose effortless and ageless beauty, delivery and gestures keeps you glued each time she graces the screen. More so, it’s her 20 years Anniversary in Nollywood and it’s a hearty congratulations from here to this Queen who has done exceedingly well for herself, the industry and the country at large. I celebrate, adore and admire her and I wish her all the beautiful things life has to offer her and her career in another 20 years!
So, Lion Heart. . .
If you have read my reviews before, you’ll know they are always detailed and different from the normal reviews (I don’t know why! So, I guessed, that’s why I try to call them Dilation instead – I guess I’m naturally epistolary 😂😂😂) nonetheless I try as much as possible not to give too much spoilers cos I really cannot help spoilers 😂.
Precisely, Lion Heart tells the story of the Obiagus and their transport business company. Lion Heart Transport Company goes through a financial crisis that could cripple the company if a quick save is not found. The Chairman of the Company, Chief Ernest Obiagu (played by Pete Edochie) suffers a health breakdown that hinders him from performing his official responsibilities and in order to keep the company running in his absence, he puts his brother, Chief Godswill Obiagu (played by Nkem Owoh) who happens to be the MD of the Owerri Headquarters of the company in his stead as Acting MD. This decision doesn’t sit well with Adaeze Obiagu (played by Genevieve Nnaji), who is the Director of Logistics and Operations and also happens to be the daughter of Chief Ernest Obiagu. Having worked side by side her father for 7 years, she couldn’t understand how and why her father would choose her Uncle as Acting MD over her. Apparently, Adaeze isn’t the only one disappointed by this choice, an insecure Samuel Akah (played by Kalu Ikeagwu) who is the Director of Engineering Services and who constantly feels threatened by Adaeze is also displeased. In the long run, Adaeze is faced with a N950 million naira debt incurred by her father and also saddled with the responsibility of saving her father’s company alongside her Uncle, Godswill Obiagu who contrary to her fear of being usurped and displaced helped her in achieving her plans to save the company.
My two cents/Attractions
This is a wonderful directorial debut and movie. I must say that I was spellbound with the excellent cinematography, shots and scenery. To say it is not close to anything I’ve seen in Nollywood before won’t be an exaggeration and the cast were magnificent. This is the juncture where I say that the casting was one of the top reasons I looked forward to the movie – from Nkem Owoh to Kanayo O. Kanayo who played Igwe Pascal to Onyeka Onwenu (who got me hooked on her acting since Half of a Yellow Sun) and most importantly, Pete Edochie who is known for his proverbs, witty sayings, facial expressions and delivery like no other in Nollywood. I was also thrilled to see one of my favorite Nollywood Queens, Ngozi Ezeonu, she’s such a thrill. Also, noteworthy and commendable is the acting debut of Ezege 1, the Obago himself – Phyno! It’s right to say that he wasn’t such a bad actor at all and even the one time appearance of Peter Okoye was awesome. I love that Genevieve tried flaunting her music prowess in our faces in that scene. Most importantly, this movie is one that was very intentional about details. The technicality employed was awesome – from Enugu to Kano; the transpositions between scenes and locales were flawless, seamless and detailed, even to the soundtracks.
I know I can never exhaust all the wonderful things there is to this movie and of a fact, people will continue to write on the superb technicalities employed that made this film a total hands down but there are other things everyone may not talk about. . .
For me, Genevieve Nnaji did an amazing job taking #igbototheworld. The creation of dialogues in Igbo language was the peak for me, I mean, if you gonna go up, you gotta go all the way up right? The version I watched had no subtitle and mhen, it didn’t matter. Although I wished my understanding of Igbo was lit but I felt really high on the Igbo dialogues (especially the dining table scene). It is undoubtedly true that Igbo language is one with a worldwide appeal and if you don’t believe, you should read African Fictions often. The way Nkem Owoh kept referring to Pete Edochie as “Odogwu!” was just sweet and a high but this wasn’t the real high for me still. The real high for me is the feministic appeal this movie has. It won’t be wrong for me to say that Genevieve Nnaji has always been one person who identifies with feminism as this film not only gives recognition to the girl child, it celebrates, lauds and redefines femaleness and the girl child through the character, Adaeze and Onyeka Onwenu likewise.
Onyeka Onwenu as a mom and wife held her family together by being there for her two children, supporting them, being sensitive to their needs, encouraging them, their dreams, making sure their self-esteem is healthy, supporting and caring for herself, her husband, her in-laws, household, etc. There was a part where she said “I never come between two brothers.” and the moment she came in to drag Adaeze away from the room because she knew she wouldn’t stop discussing business with her resting husband shows a woman who is totally aware of herself, her children, family and others.Lion Heart not only gives recognition to the girl child, it celebrates, lauds and redefines femaleness. Click To Tweet
Y’all know I always have favourite scenes, dialogues and quotes. These are some of my best quotes from the movie. . .
1. Onyeka Onwenu – “Don’t slouch. Common, let’s go talk. Your Uncle is just here to supervise. . . my daughter, a second hand always helps. . .I’m sure he has his reasons. . .”
Genevieve Nnaji – “If obiora were in my shoes. . .”
Onyeka Onwenue – “Sit up and then shut up! Your father loves and appreciates you and you know it, his reasons have nothing to do with you being a woman. Ozugo! Your Uncle is just here to support you . . .
That moment Nkem Owoh walked in and said “. . .and support I shall.”
2. “Look Adanna, if you want to spray insecticides on cockroaches, snakes and scorpions, you get yourself a vantage position.” – Nkem Owoh
3. Onyeka Onwenue – “look at you!
Nkem Owoh – “Handsome galigali” (ọmọ, i laughed here no be small. Nkem Owoh is such a comic relief😂)
Genevieve – “Uncle, Daddy is resting.”
Nkem Owoh – “let me go and rest with him.” 😂😂😂😂
4. Nkem Owoh – “Adanna, is that your voice. You! Bribe?”
Genevieve – “Uncle, this is different!” (Lmao! Nigerians and the typical double standards)
5. Nkem Owoh: “So, you do your arrest by arithmetic. One man, one woman!” 😂😂😂
6. “God never gives you a burden He has not equipped you to carry. You have your father’s business brains. You are a business woman. Do away with the sentiments and the emotions and get the job done. You have it in you. Dig deep and get it. You’ve always been able to do anything you put your mind to. You can do this.” – Onyeka Onwenu
7. Pete Edochie – “Get out of the seat. . . Your continued stay is an extension of your irrelevance. Could you leave please?” (Kai! This one is the bazooka of everything! Thank you Pete Edochie for always killing it! Your acting was everything! Poised. Smooth. Concise. Face game – always lit).
8. “Ewo Agbomma. . . born baby!” (Nkem Owoh killed me walahi). . .
9. “I’m Onyinye, leaving!” This scene was sweet and silly at the same time.
10. The dance and music – Phyno, Genevieve, Pete Edochie and Onyeka Onwenu gave us some long-throat and never should stop moment at the closing scene as they dance with so much class and grace to Obiagu!
“’I’ve come to realize that most men invest their time in matters of transient value at the expense of what they should cherish, what they should value like love, life, family. I waited 8 years for you to be born. Those are years of trepidation and you came and you became a source of pride and joy to me. I’ve watched you grow and I’m so confident in your ability. The biggest legacy I will leave for posterity is you, my daughter. I’m not thinking about death but Marie Corelli said in the midst of life we are in death, so, usually when we talk about life, there’s always death hovering around. You’re the pendulum of my life, if you stop swinging, then I’m gone! I’m proud of you, you mean so much to me.” – Pete Edochie (This is the sweetest thing ever! Every girl deserves to hear this! This is for every girl child)
1. Storyline – I expected more. More like, I expected a ghenghen sturv because it’s Genevieve, number one and two because of the hype. This is not to say that the movie is not amazing, trust me, it is! But the storyline was just there – not really spectacular kinda. I mean, at a very early point, I could tell how the story was gonna end and along the line it became a cliché sort of when Nkem Owoh walked into that scene where Hamza Maikano was about to be duped by two Igbo men and then he saved the day! I knew right there that they were gonna meet again and he was probably gonna be the solution to the menace created by Pete Edochie. In short, I could say the storyline didn’t quite keep me glued but the characters like Pete Edochie and his facial expressions and proverbs, Onyeka Onwenu’s flawless delivery and diction, Nkem Owoh’s ability to make even the slightest utterance comic, Jemima Osunde’s unhidden awe for Genevieve Nnaji (her Madam), the scenery, the soundtracks and the Igbo language did. I guessed the simplicity of the story resulted in the overall perfection of the movie. Maybe if the storyline was too complicated, the perfection might have been lost and moreover, sometimes, depth lies in simplicity and this is one thing this movie has – depth!
2. Realism? – Okay, this is still about that Nkem Owoh – Hamza Maikano scene. First of all, Nkem Owoh is not familiar with Peter Okoye’s house and he was supposed to wait for Genevieve outside and then at a point, it felt like he was following the lady that supposedly caught his attention only to find himself coincidentally in the room where Hamza Maikano was being duped. Second of all, it was obvious that those guys were trying to dupe Hamza because by dressing, looks and the use of an interpreter (definitely because the other Igbo man is supposedly uneducated enough to speak English), Hamza is an Hausa man but then, that’s even not the point, the point is, how real is it that Nkem Owoh walked out unscathed, unbeaten, having spoilt business for those guys? I mean, they had no guns, no knife, nothing! How real is it that people would run that kind of business and not be armed? Even if it has been a seamless business run over the years – and then the other guy was like right behind Nkem Owoh as if he wanted to hurt him but he did nothing. The craziest part was that Genevieve walked in too, I mean, how did she know to look for him there? (Just my thoughts) and then she was like, Uncle, let’s go and just like that, they left.
3. The Police Station scene too (there was something off about it) and please, is it weird that I noticed that Genevieve Nnaji wasn’t really wearing Jemima’s clothes and vice versa cos I believed the Costumier definitely made two pieces cos they really don’t have the same body size and type (this is just on a lighter note though).
Conclusion: This is a movie of its own kind and class – not one to be put side by side another for comparison or contrast. It celebrates;
I. Nationalism (the story builds on the historical rough relationship between the Igbos and the Hausas and this was shown in a scene where Chief Obiagu was hesitant about merging with Maikano motors because of the tribe and another where Alhaji Danladi Maikano came to meet him and there was a long silence before he broke kolanuts and the more he tried, the more brick wall he met with Obiagu until he spoke Hausa out of frustration and Obiagu responded in Hausa and he was surprised and then he goes “ka na jin Hausa?” and then everything became smooth from there enough that he referred to him as “my brother” at the second to the last scene.)
ii. the girl child, women supporting and admiring women (the healthy relationship between Onyinye and Adaeze) and it also rewrites the conventional narration of the boy child always being interested in the family business/business in general as Obiora (Phyno) was more interested in his music than his father’s business which was everything to Adaeze (Genevieve Nnaji).
iii. Healthy family – let me say, every girl child deserves a father like Chief Ernest Obiagu and a mother like Onyeka Onwenu. As a father, Obagu was sensitive to his daughter’s feelings and well being. “. . .I know that she’s not happy and I can understand why. . .” Also, an Uncle like Chief Godswill Obagu. I mean, an Uncle who won’t hesitate to punch a nincompoop for you and cover your boobs with a newspaper while you slay a pervert with your Harvard knowledge! Go, family goals!
iv. culture, values, natural hair, humour (thank you Nkem Owoh for the effortless humour). . . the list is endless.
Lessons/Notes from the movie
1. Two good heads are always better than one. – Adaeze sustained her father’s business and proved herself when it matters most and even beat deadlines because she allowed herself to share and receive ideas. The journey is always easier when you run with and alongside someone.
2. Be open minded about receiving help – Help is not always competitive and it doesn’t undermine your strength and ability to survive and pull through all by yourself.
3. An enemy is not always a stranger; He’s a kinsman. Igwe Pascal tried taking over Lion Heart and was almost successful with the help of another kinsman/brother, Samuel who gladly invited an enemy in for his own selfish gains. In other words, love and loyalty is not by tribe.
4. A Healthy family is a treasure and it’s not overrated. Likewise, fatherhood is important in every girl child’s life. Thanks to the characters of Pete Edochie and Onyeka Onwenu for showing what a healthy family should be and means.
5. A great, fierce and stable support system is everything – self-believe is great but there are moments you will need other people to believe in you to find your self-believe again in moments of doubts. A great and fierce support system keeps a woman on the high and with that, it’s easy for her to become all that she hoped to be and more. Onyeka Onwenu and Nkem Owoh were examples of that for Adaeze. The merger that saved the company was all Nkem Owoh’s idea and even though he brought the plans, he allowed her to execute it and reaffirmed his trust in her by telling her. He didn’t try to usurp her. . . “Adanna, you will discuss with this man alone, I will stay on the flank. . . Look, you’re a leader. He is a leader. Leadership is not easy. . .” And the beautiful thing is, knowing they’ll always be there for her is such a treasure.
6. Allow people to try. Encourage. Don’t discourage. Don’t rubbish people’s plans. Don’t shove suggestions down people’s throats. Allow them to come to a place of understanding what you suggest; if they want to take it or not. Nkem Owoh allowed Genevieve try and exhaust her options before he tabled his suggestion again and even in the process of trying it her way, he was down for her all the way! Don’t make people look stupid for trying out their plans, let them discover the reality or the lack thereof. let people come into their place of understanding a thing and at their own pace. Don’t always be in a hurry to be right. It’s not always about right and wrong, it’s about surviving, conquering and winning as one and together. . . “The major thing is to understand at your own time. . .” Nkem Owoh.
7. Maturity and experience is not always underrated for expertise – Sometimes, what makes expertise isn’t just book knowledge or smartness but maturity and experience. When Adaeze finally received her Uncle’s suggestion, she wanted to place a call to meet Maikano but he told her No and told her how to do things properly.
8. Be open minded about love and life – Love is not always dressed in Akpoche, Agbada, Iro and Buba, etc. Love is creating familiarity in unfamiliar places. Never say never.
9. Collaborate – sometimes, it takes coming together with someone else to make magic to expand, discover and rediscover the depths of you, your dreams, your abilities and more! Collaboration (Merger) is not just a one-time save but could be a lifetime savings! You don’t always have to make magic alone; explore the dynamics of your magic. Merge resources! Exchange strengths.
Rating: I’m rating this movie a 9/10. I’ve seen it almost three times now and will I see it again? Definitely! The little glitches in the storyline are nothing compared to the total delivery of the movie. I’ll see this movie again for its richness, depth, dialogues and technical expertise. Congratulations Queen Nnaji on this one! It’s nulli secundus. It is phenomenal.
And that’s it guys! I hope you enjoyed this very long dilation. Don’t forget to leave a comment, share and follow me on all social media spaces @ibukunwrites. I wanna know what you think of this review and the movie.
Till I come your way again, keep refreshing this space and I remain your love and light girl,