Movie Review

SHANTY TOWN; A MOVIE ABOUT POWER PLAY IN LAGOS STATE(A REVIEW).

First error I spotted in Shanty Town was the first scene that had a lit candle and it was dawn and a lady got up and blew out the candlelight. To start with, who lights candles and goes to sleep? Do you want to start a magnanimous conflagration?

Anyway…

A Minini Empire production, Shanty Town, directed by Dimeji Ajibola is a ghetto star studded Nollywood Netflix series set in a fictitious lawless ghetto community called Shangisha Community in 2004.

The plot revolves round some ladies stuck in a prostitution ring run by a criminal gang in Shangisha community a.k.a Shanty Town. The story follows the few of the ladies who have not been overtaken by the drug infested lifestyle; who are working hard to buy their freedom and get back to saner climes outside the ghetto community.

Episode one climaxed on the attempt by Jackie’s friend, Shalewa (Played by Nancy Isime) to buy her freedom with some money she lent her, the backlash as she is accused of stealing from the gang. Again, the movie director goofs as Colorado (played by Zubby Michael) is waiting with a calculator for Scar to call him up to provide it. What was that? Does it mean Colorado is a prophet of sorts?

Anyway…Shalewa meets a shocker that she belongs to Scar and cannot pay off her debts to him as it is to the tune of 15 million Naira which does not come close to the 500,000 Naira she borrowed. And then the episode ends with Scar having an erotic bath assisted by two naked ladies and then joining his gang through a prayer session led by a traditional priestess and then taking off for the day’s “work” in their molue bus just as Ini Edo’s vengeance-seeking character, Inem, who just got out of jail and her friend Ene (played by Nse Ikpe-Etim) arrive Shanty Town.

Man no die, man no rottie! Inem is presented in the second episode as the Old Gee Whore who has developed survival skill that can knock guys out at will. Super power of sorts. She wows the girls in Scar’s absence. I love that cab driver’s character. The one snitching on Jackie (played by the bom bom queen herself, Mercy ‘Lambo’ Eke.

Trust me, that legendary Yoruba culture of demonstrable respect in the form of prostrating before your elder and worshipping the physical God in human form to get the best of life was well represented in Shanty Town; the movie. This occurs as Richard Mofe Damijo’s character makes his first appearance in the movie.

That RMD scene was epic. It deserves an award and more. What?! RMD in all his fame is underrated still. The way he owned the scene gave me goose chills. Chidi Mokeme (Scar) must have been impressed too.

It was on that scene that the writers, witty Xavier Ighoroje and Chichi Nworah laid bare what and who the movie was about. I sat up and really started to pay attention to details. Maybe our own Nollywood is doing the Hollywood thing of revealing state secrets subliminally too.

And it gets even more mind blowing in that Isime scene fixing African zombie for the PSquare character in a bar. Ömö!

Awww, it is a Prince Charming meets Cinderella something. I’m beginning to love the craft and creativity that went into making this movie. A spark strikes off between Femi and Shalewa. As Jackie Dey collect axe; Shalewa Dey collect p***k. Wow!!! The level of brutality and horror brought to bear in this movie beats Hollywood to it. The theme of female exploitation by alpha males is explored as well as the law of sowing and reaping at work in all of nature. Scar sowed violence and blood and reaps it in grand style as episode two ends.

In Episode 3, the power play takes on a new twist. Scar is found surviving the orchestrated vehicular crash. Then he finds himself having to negotiate how to give up his boss. A lady he called Mama. It was in this episode I understood where the writers got their inspiration from; Sin City; that hollywood star-studded thriller of sorts. Scheming and betrayals and all forms of power plays form the bedrock of Shanty Town. Femi turns out to be DGeneral’s son. And Shanty Town turns out to be in Lagos.

In episode four, the way the string of prostitutes are kept hooked to drugs which make them more malleable to the hooker business is portrayed. Chief DaCosta Fernandez is portrayed as a sadomasochist and his victim is Inem, who, by the way, seem to be working undercover for the police. Zubby Michael’s character kept carrying the battered Inem about in this episode. What a role to play, Zubby. Inem is taken to Scar’s room to recuperate and she steals evidence and some dollar bills from Scar’s safe.

Episode five begins on the two lovebirds; Shalewa and Femi Fernandez. And then quickly switches to the drama in Shanty Town as Scar calls together his lieutenants and asks for his money and Ene frames one of his men covering for Inem. The victim is shot. And then Inem is scheduled for another meet with Chief. That part about Scar having his finger cut off because he failed at his orders reminded me of a scene in the Hollywood movie; Crying Freeman.
So while the western world uses tricks to hypnotize, Africans use charms and totems. This was explored in Shanty Town as Femi gets hypnotized by Scar just as he realized Shalewa is one of Scar’s hookers. At the same time, Inem and Shalewa meet in a bathroom coincidentally and discover a voicenote recording of the killing of Jackie. Femi takes off to do the bidding of the hypnosis; get Chief’s golden ring. Hang on. I thought Shalewa was the one given the amulet to hypnotize Femi, how come it was Scar that had it and used it?

The final episode had a very poorly directed action scene. I believe we still have a long way to go in getting our action scenes come up to to par with Hollywood’s. Chinese martial arts movies of the 80’s did a better job than what we find in Episode six of Shanty Town. The women of Shanty town have their revenge on Scar and the crime case of human parts business and other shady businesses being done by Chief Fernandez is disclosed.

In all, I give Shanty Town 2 stars. In spite of the glaring production flaws I noticed, it is a suspense filled thriller that exposes the ills of our society. I look forward to a remake of the movie in years to come.

By O’star Eze

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