We saw Mercy Johnson’s The Legend of Inikpi over the weekend and without further ado, here is our review
Story and Writing
The movie told the story of princess ‘Inikpi’, whose life held the survival of the Igala people who were at the brink of war with the Bini people. Discrepancies have been detected in the writing for example, some have said that the the people of Idah were not on the verge of war rather already in battle with the Benin people. However, it was obvious that the writers tried as much as possible to be historically accurate. In Africa where there is a lack of proper documentation of ancient history, accuracy is almost impossible. In terms of other aspects of the writing, there were several plot holes, for example, the cause of the war was unclear among others.
The film was directed by Frank Rajah Arase who is no stranger to historical dramas having directed the 2015 film Iyore. Raj is one of the very few directors that has the ability to grab the audience’s attention right from the beginning, and he did so. However, after such a great start, he failed to keep up. The stakes never felt high enough and as the movie neared its crescendo, it began to feel boring and the build up to Inikpi’s death which was expected, if you know the story felt bland. There were also several rookie mistakes and inaccuracies like the use of modern day pillows, buckets and clothings while this was the responsibility of the costume and props, the director also shares half of the blame. While it was not completely bad, it is far from raj’s best work
The cast was pretty impressive to say the least and the performances were generally professional. Mercy Johnson and Sam Dede particularly delivered commendable performances especially in conveying the emotions that the director sought to draw. Paul Obazele also put up a great performances as a fearful king of the ancient Bini empire while Nancy Ameh was great in her titular role as Inikpi.
Music and sound
For a historical drama such as this, the soundtrack needed to be deliberate, especially in telling the story appropriately, and for most part that was the case with this film. The only flaw was the weird arabian music that played at one point in the movie, but other than that good attention was paid to sound and music.
Mercy Johnson wanted to tell a story as well as showcase the rich culture of the Igala people and she succeeded in doing that. However, while this passion project should be commended, it could have been better. Making a historical drama in Nigeria is not an easy feat, especially in terms of resources but these constraints shouldn’t excuse the avoidable production flaws, inaccuracies and plot holes. In conclusion, The Legend of Inikpi is a good watch, a lecture in history that will draw emotions, but just don’t watch it for a spectacle, and don’t just take any high expectations to the film theatre.