By - Usman Sanusi
DIRECTOR : Genevieve Nnaji
STARRING : Genevieve Nnaji, Pete Edochie, Nkem Owoh, Onyeka Onwenu, Kanayo O. Kanayo, Jemima Osunde Phyno, Peter Okoye
RUNTIME : 95 mins
SYNOPSIS : Running a company can be challenging, especially if you are a female in a male-dominated industry. Looking to prove her worth, Adaeze steps up to the challenge when her father, Chief Ernest Obiagu is forced to take a step back due to health issues. Ironically, he appoints his crude and eccentric brother, Godswill, instead to run the company with his young daughter. Complications arise when they discover that the family business is in dire financial straits and both Adaeze and Godswill try to save the company in their own way to crazy and often hilarious results.
Genevieve’s directorial debut – Lionheart is the first original Nigerian movie acquired by Netflix and it’s definitely one of the best African movies ever produced. The entire movie compensated me for the obstacles I faced before getting to see the movie. Let’s take away the “Genevieve” sentiments, this movie is top class in many ramifications ranging from humour, production and storyline.
The movie is a humorous reality at the complications that happens when family and business mix. Working for her father’s transportation company, Adaeze (Genevieve) has proven herself to be more than worthy to be her father’s successor. However, when her father falls ill, it is her uncle Godswill (the hilarious Nkem Owoh) and not Adaeze who is given the throne in his absence.
Conveying the importance of family values both in one’s personal and professional life, Lionheart is a delight from beginning to end. One of the great things about this film is that it never downplays Adaeze’s achievements or competency. She is portrayed as an intelligent and qualified business woman who has worked hard for everything she has. Though she encounters sexist men, who expect sexual favours for their help, at no point does her family pressure her to find a man and settle down. Adaeze is free to be who she is, and it is a joy to watch.
The movie commenced with an action-filled scene revealing touts and hoodlums harassing and tearing down Lionheart’s headquarters only for Adaeze (Genevieve) to save the day. At this point, I immediately sat up because I knew I was in for a huge ride. The movie proceeded to Lionheart at the verge of securing a huge bumper deal with the Enugu State government that will enable them run the State’s bus rapid transit which will in turn fetch huge money for the organization. However, the beginning of the company’s temporary problems commenced when Adaeze’s father and CEO of Lionheart transport – Ernest Obiagu (Pete Edochie) was hit by a cardiac arrest minutes before the end of the meeting.
What did this mean??! It implied that Ernest Obiagu will have to take a break from his company’s Eagle duties in order to recover from his ailment. This meant he had to name a temporary leader of his organization, Adaeze was clearly everyone’s guess but to our and her surprise, Ernest named his erratic brother – Godswill (Nkem Owoh, popularly known as Osoufia) to run the company with his daughter, afterall “YOU CAN’T COME IN BETWEEN TWO BROTHERS”
To compound Adaeze’s misery, she finds out few days later in a hilarious scene that the company has a 950 million naira debt which must be settled in the next 30 days. Admist all these, Adaeze’s music-conscious brother, Phyno surfaces. Despite his consistent music failures, the whole family backed him because of the passion he had for it.
Adaeze and her uncle, Godswill begin to put heads together to prevent the company from folding up. From trying to extend the 30-day deadline for the debt payment, to trying to secure a loan, all their efforts were futile. Then comes the CEO of IG Motors, Lionheart’s biggest rival Kanayo O. Kanayo who in his selfish and callous interest offers to buy Lionheart in a series of desperation acts such as bribery.
With few days left, Adaeze takes her uncle with her to an old friend P-square who offered to help with 500 million naira although he clearly had an ulterior motive. While trying to get Psquare to help, within the same premises her uncle saved a stranger from falling into the hands of fraudsters (friends of Paul Okoye) who were about to rip a northerner all because he had no knowledge of Igbo language.
To avoid hinting at more spoilers, you should see for yourself how this benevolent act of Godswill repaid the Obiagu family.
The fact that this movie was classified as a Comedic one is awesome but the movie went beyond that, teaching lifelong lessons and revealing many societal problems in Nigeria such as sexism, the typical “give and take” men seek from women, bribery, tribalism, corruption, unnecessary ego and what have you.
The movie featured a galaxy of stars with well assigned suitable roles. Unlike a lot of many Nollywood movies with a cast of famous needless actors, Lionheart is a huge exception to this norm. Nkem Owoh put in an Oscar-worthy performance with his facial expressions and jokes. The proverbial Pete Edochie isn’t left behind dishing us everlasting.
In addition, I was very excited to see Nigerian artistes display their vast repertoire of acting skills, something this near perfect movie had on display in abundance. This is now becoming a more regular sight for regular movie gowers, you may recollect that in the past we saw the likes of Vector, Banky W, Falz take this path and even most recently, we saw Reminisce and Illbliss make their Nollywood debut in Kemi Adetiba’s King Of Boys.
In Lionheart, Phyno played his part in the success of the movie, portraying his character effortlessly. Paul Okoye who only had a cameo appearance musn’t be left out either. This is a huge win for the Nigerian entertainment industry as a whole.
The cinematography and production of the movie wowed me to bits. The overpaid attention to details, costume, sound, and the almost perfect mirroring of the Igbo culture was a joy to behold. You should look forward to the dinner table scene where the Obiagus discussed and cracked relatable Nigerian jokes, that scene was extremely beautiful and is yet to depart from me.
Some of the jokes were stretched out too thin rather unnecessarily and ended up spoiling what could had been a near perfect movie.
Also, there were sections of the movie where the Igbo language was spoken at length, anybody planning to see this movie who struggle with following subtitles may find that a bit tiring.
In conclusion, Genevieve did an overall astonishing job and I’m definitely sure she’ll be seen more often in the directorial box in the near future.
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