The crime thriller genre is one that many Nollywood filmmakers wouldn’t dabble into. Dare Olaitan takes a shot at it with his latest movie, “Knockout Blessing”.
Olaitan is fully in charge of “Knockout Blessing” as writer and director. Perhaps his 2016 film titled “Ojukokoro” – meaning greed in Yoruba – is not enough to do justice to this subject. So, he revisits it. This time he situates the story in the Nigerian political environment. Power is only good to the extent that it doesn’t make you greedy. “Knockout Blessing” also touches on other themes like women’s rights and bullying. However, Olaitan struggles to bring the themes together to tell a compelling story.
He structures the screenplay into four chapters. The film’s opening is intriguing. Udoka Oyeka’s character receives a message on his computer. The time is 3.49am. It’s a matter of “national security” so he needs to speak with the president urgently. The scene makes the viewer sit-up in anticipation of a joyride but the intrigue is not sustained.
In the next chapter, the audience is taken into Blessing’s world. Ade Laoye plays Blessing, a young aspiring boxer. Blessing meets Oby (Linda Ejiofor) on what would have been an ill-fated day for the latter. Olaitan moves the story forward by revealing information about Blessing using flashbacks. However, all you need to know about Blessing is that she has a killer punch. On the other hand, Oby is Hannah’s (Meg Otanwa) protege. Their encounter with Blessing takes them down a path that leads into the criminal underworld.
The film really takes flight in chapter three. Racketeer Dagogo (Bucci Franklin) and Gowon (Demola Adedoyin) come into the picture. Franklin brings the much needed gusto. And it’s interesting to see Blessing’s character develop. She transforms from a shy and naive girl from a small town somewhere in southwest Nigeria, to the defender of “Dagogo’s Angels”. Gowon is the hitman. He must stop the gang from revealing the president’s secret in the interest of “national security”. Blessing holds her own as lead. And Adedoyin delivers on his role as the stoic villian.
Meanwhile, Gowon is not Blessing’s only problem. Tony Akposheri and Iyke Micheal (Ibrahim) are trailing her. To clarify, Akposheri’s son and Ibrahim had suffered from Blessing’s punch. And by an unlikely coincidence, they both file a complaint against Blessing at the same police station. Akposheri and Michael are the least impressive actors in “Knockout Blessing”. Their acting is stagy.
Olaitan’s script is mainly based on a Pidgin English dialogue. However, the dialogue is generic. Hannah’s continuous emphasis ‘all Kpai na Kpai”, meaning death is death, has to be the most memorable line in “Knockout Blessing”.
Apart from the uninspiring dialogue, the makeup was also a setback. Nollywood’s production standards have improved significantly. Therefore, the poorly done scar on Ibrahim’s (Iyke Michael) face was disappointing. However, Nollywood filmmakers are still not getting it right with their action sequences and “Knockout Blessing” is no exception. The punches were ridiculous. And how Gowon survived so many men and came out unscathed is mind-boggling.
In the film’s final chapter, the closely guarded secret unraveled. Contrary to expectations, it is unbecoming. It made you feel like you were watching a Nollywood film from two decades ago. The final act of the movie is even more confusing. It leaves one wondering what the film’s purpose is. The fact is that “Knockout Blessing” has been set-up for a sequel, so the many unanswered questions might be dealt with in the sequel.
To sum it up, Olaitan is a young and ambitious director who’s efforts should be acknowledged. His story is one of how greed can kill ambition. “Knockout Blessing” intends social change but Laoye and Adedoyin’s convincing performances are unable to save the film from its clumsy plot. It’s not the kind of movie Nollywood should be putting at a time when China just landed on the moon’s far side. It’s questionable that the movie made it to the cinema because the matter of “national security” makes us look primitive.
Written and directed by: Dare Olaitan
Cast: Linda Ejiofor, Demola Adedoyin, Ade Laoye, Meg Otanwa, Udoka Oyeka, Gbenga Titiloye, Tony Akposheri, Bucci Franklin and KC Ejelonu, Abayomi Alvin, Sandra Eze and Odenike.