“I’m elated that Nigerians will watch an action-packed movie that they can be proud of”
At what point will threadbare clichés of ethnocentric Nigerian humour stop being escapist entertainment, and start to become an essential narrative to avoid when producing films? Klippers, a mid-ranking American-Nigerian entry loosely weaves a whole narrative within its most obvious image: that of a Nigerian who plays the role of an assassin and holds two lovers at gunpoint while continuously spluttering Igbo insults at them. While at it, he melodramatically beats a West African Drum at intervals. The one-hour thirty minutes film over-saturates itself in this scene, a bleak vision that doubtlessly represents it’s synopsis without any added flesh. The movie’s low-budget power is flawed by a growing reliance on this single incident and context.
The power of a story is when it is a complex whole — a series of event. In Klippers, only a few stakes are raised and pulses quickened by the Nigerian filmmaker, Ofu Obekpa (who doubles as the main character, Steven) and the Nigerian producer, Conphidance (also acting as the Nigerian Assassin, who is artlessly identified as ‘Drummer’ on the closing credits of characters). They offer cringe-worthy dialogue by constantly delivering bland one-liners such as:
- Maybe you should get a woman someday and your perspective of life would change _Steven
- Poison [offered by native doctors] has been overused in Africa, I’ll rather use a gun _ Drummer
- If you are a kind person, you would have given your life up like Jesus did for us _Drummer
- What is he saying? Shouldn’t you understand…aren’t you African or something? _Clara
- Don’t you know when men are talking women should keep quiet _Drummer
The Nigerian-Assassin-Drummer embodies his role with such aggressive patriarchal values that have too easily been the stereotyped image of an old-fashioned Igbo man. This general formula continues as he utters Igbo insults (Anufia, Ewu, Nkita etc.), male chauvinism, broken English, biblical words of wisdom, and beats his drum with “African” method-acting. The delivery by actors was both excessive and deficient altogether. Acting, as Uta Hagen says, after all, has to do with ‘making the business invisible’; to ‘live truthfully under any given circumstance’ (Meisner). Moreover, Nigerians do not necessarily speak with such intently concentrated native-accent that Black-American actors (recall Will Smith in “Concussion”, 2015) always try to reproduce in such a wrong way.
When Clara’s friend appears from nowhere and more assassins appear at the house to kill Clara and Steven, and also after Clara and Steven succeed at killing everyone, emotional background music plays. At these points, Klippers felt like an old-school Nollywood storyline in dribs and drabs. The dramatic weight was both inexistent and too much to bear; even when some acts were indeed funny, I refused to laugh because the movie became an exercise in re-cycled African-Nigerian action-comedy. While there were Nigerians who had a good laugh, it would appear that we Nigerians like slapstick comedy and are easy to impress –perhaps why Obekpa’s idea wasn’t an ambitious one.
The leads manage to not act as intentional as the other second-class actors –particularly Black Panther Alumnus Obekpa, striving to the verge of a breakthrough. But as a director, Obekpa seems overly patient about this success; the spectacle he generates for a movie produced in 2017, released in theatres August 10th 2018 in Nigeria, is tentative at best.
When viewers were done watching Klippers just yesterday at Ikeja City Mall, Saturday 11th August, Ofu Obekpa himself was present to take pictures with the viewers. Asides Black Panther (2018), Obekpa is also known for Captain America: Civil War (2016) and American Made (2017).
Check out the official trailer below.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/@Klippersthemovie
Fisayo is a journalist in search of words. Find her on twitter @fisvyo