Jagun-Jagun: For the first time in a long while I watched a Yoruba movie from the beginning to the end without skipping any part of it or sleeping halfway through it.
The movie Jagun Jagun by Femi Adebayo is epic-based.
It tells a tale of a strong warrior king whose power was so great, he is feared and revered by other kings.
He has a training camp where lots of individuals from different villages and kingdoms come to learn the art of warfare and along came a son of a wood carver (Gbotija) a character played by Lateef Adedimeji.
The king got jealous of Gbotija and tried disposing him, an act that brought a lot of consequences against him.
I have to stop here else I give you spoilers.
The movie Jagun-Jagun is in the category of epic films like Afolayan’s Anikulapo and Femi’s first film Agesinkole.
A wise person once told me: To get to the hundredth step you have to take the first and Femi built on his first outing to give us this masterpiece.
The casting of this movie is quite commendable, Odunlade Adekola brought in his A-game and it’s obvious that his venture into Biyi Bandele’s Movie drama Elesin Oba brought out his theatrical abilities, which he used with grandeur in this movie!
In fact, every cast delivered their scene succinctly, it was believable and the dialogues were apt.
The dialogues: Yoruba is the language spoken in this movie and it was a beautiful rendition of deep phrases, explorative nuances and well placed proverbs, the actors spoke the language with clarity, proper diction and accent which was quite lacking in Anikulapo.
Anikulapo tried painting an old Oyo Ile but showed us a scanty town with perforated city walls that could accommodate an elephant, in short, the set failed to give the realism of an empire that once controlled lands and people from the deep hinterland of the southwest, down to the coast of Dahomey in far away Republic of Benin!
This is where Jagun-Jagun shines, the locations are a true representation of the freshwater swamp and mangrove forest and rocky hills which is typical of southwest Nigeria where the bulk of the Yoruba people live, the village scene was a realistic representation and the director encapsulated nature with creative aesthetics to tell a tale that blast you back in time to the days of Oduduwa himself.
The costume was well thought of, in fact, it was obvious that the cultural heritage of the people they were trying to portray was done in detail.
Continuity in film ensures consistent visual elements throughout shots and scenes, maintaining logical storytelling. Logical storytelling seems to be an elusive element in many Nollywood movies.
And this comes about due to poor and amateurish script writing, lack of character development and parochial storytelling.
A good example: In Anikulapo according to the narrator, when someone dies prematurely, the Akala bird resurrects them with its divine ability, how Queen Arolake (played by Bimbo Ademoye) was able to hear what this almighty bird was saying and how she was able to “wipe it Oriamo cord” on it’s neck so hard that it dropped it’s magical gourd, how the queen was able to pick it up, how she got to know the power it carries and subsequently used it to resurrect dead people was never explained in the movie!
But in the movie Jagun-Jagun, something similar was postulated, Gbotija (played by Lateef Adedimeji) was portrayed as a man that could control trees and anything made from wood, it turns out he was from a tribe of wood carvers who possess an ancient incantation that gives them the ability to communicate with the major raw material of their trade i.e wood/trees, and that explains it. Simple!
Jagun-Jagun left no loose ends, it was well scripted that it didn’t need unrealistic afterthought scenes or silly flashbacks to explain what is not. It had flashbacks but they were tied with scenes that requires it.
The movie Jagun-Jagun is a Yoruba war movie and the actions are much, very much, and in trying to get the effects right, a lot of CGI was used.
Computer-generated imagery (CGI) added special characters, scenes, backgrounds. Real effects of blood splash splattered across the screen giving you a Spartacus feel! There is no dulling, it’s a movie that won’t bore you, each scene cascades from one peak to another in upward fast paced layer movements till an eventual climax is reached.
Kudos should be given to Adebayo for this movie, it is a masterpiece. The movie plot, which is a chain of cause-and-effect events that shaped the narrative was relayed in a simple although intricate, but easy-to-follow and believable form. This makes the movie sequence intriguing, interesting and most importantly logical.
Of course, it has some shortcomings albeit they are negligible.
Some elements in the movie are uncomfortably similar to that of the movie, The woman king, e.g the training lineup and the fight sequence of the soldiers are similar to that of The woman king.
There was a part of the movie where Binta Ayo Mogaji the mother of “Jitoni” Ayo Ajewole’s love interest, (Yes, Woli Agba also featured and he did amazing), wore slippers called salubata the one made with tyre, aside from the fact that such material ‘tyre’ were not available at that period, footwear was a luxury exclusive to royalty in those days, and multiple common people wearing it in the movie seemed off.
Like I said trivial are the shortcomings of this amazing movie.
The movie was co-directed by Adebayo’s brother Tope Adebayo and Adebayo Tijani a popular movie producer, director and actor.
He did a good job with the directing of the movie, lightning, angles, transition and general colour grading are commendable. There were scenes where nature in its true raw form was creatively captured, a good one is a scene with Lateef and the daughter of Ogundigi a character played by Femi Adebayo, both serenading each other in a bush with African sunflowers. I have never seen them that much in their natural form, the latter zoom and fade off on one of it by the director at the end of that particular scene is iconic.
Dialogue is captured on set during filming to establish a genuine connection between the character’s voice and actions. Sometimes, if the recorded audio is unclear due to factors like wind or unwanted sounds, it can be re-recorded in a controlled studio environment through Automated Dialogue Replacement (ADR).
ADR has been abused by most big-budget Nollywood/Netflix movies, a whole movie gets all its sounds and voices post-recorded, it gives a disconnected artificial feel, it’s like the voice and the actors have a different life!
But Adebayo was able to marry re‐recorded voicing and on-set natural recording in a blend that brought about a seamless synergy between actors, their natural voices and added audio effects, without it coming out with a synthetic feel that so perverse most big-budget Nollywood films.
In all Femi Adebayo’s Jagun-Jagun gets a 9/10 score for me!
It’s an exciting rollercoaster of action events blended with unique cultural elements garnished with amazing picture quality, rolled up with a logical sequential storyline that will leave you wide-eyed throughout.
Gbemisola Falona wrote to OYO NEWS with email@example.com