February 7, 2020

Muna: Do Not Try This Anywhere

By Amarachukwu Iwuala

A cross-section of Nigerian viewers is displeased with Nollywood for making drama and comedy the dominant genres in their storytelling. 

Understandably, those two genres, quite often, do not require as much technical and expensive elements as action, horror and war films, which need considerable funding to be top-notch. 

Kevin Nwankwor’s Muna is likely to lessen the indignation of that set of movie-goers.

“Believability is compromised in a film where too much power is ascribed to one individual.”

In fairness to Nollywood directors, though, the industry boasts of a good number of quality films of other genres.  Take action films, for example, Teco Benson did not start with them, but by the time he settled into action films, he etched his name on audiences’ minds with such films as Executive Crime, Formidable Force and State of Emergency.  Eric Aghimien made a name for himself with A Mile from Home and followed it up with Slow Country, but perhaps one of Nigeria’s most outstanding action films yet, both in terms of the quality of the screenplay and execution, is Ifeanyi Onyeabor’s Darkest Night produced by Emem Isong, starring Richard Mofe-Damijo, Genevieve Nnaji, Kalu Ikeagwu, Uche Jombo plus Segun Arinze.

Muna (Adesua Etomi) is a victim of human trafficking, but rather than succumb to her predicament and wallow in self-pity, she equips herself with the requisite skills to fight the criminal cartel that separated her from her loved ones.

The depiction of grinding poverty, which compels parents to send out their young children to search for greener pastures is heart-rending.  A hybrid of Hollywood action style and Asian martial arts results in a riveting film.  It is gratifying to see a story of trafficking as an action film, given that earlier movies on trafficking are brooding tales. 

Much as the visuals are pleasant to the eyes, the dialogue is not particularly striking.

Though Muna as a cinematographic narrative is entertaining to a great extent, yet believability is compromised in a film where too much power is ascribed to one individual.  Multiple bullets fly over their shoulders yet none touches them.  They engage in a gun battle with a score of other human beings, sometimes with those who are trained to use guns, but the protagonist never gets hurt.  Rather, they defeat every assailant.  Same person combats foes in martial arts and overcomes two dozen people.  Bravo!  Just look at Muna’s final fight with Patrick and the unparalleled bravery in exhibition.  I mean, such might is incredible.  A common Igbo adage says that if one person cooks for the entire community, the food might not even be enough, but it is impossible for one person to finish the food cooked by the whole village.  This is Muna’s pitfall, it reverses this timeless truth in a way that lacks conviction.

What gives heroes and heroines in action films the confidence to engage in long conversations with criminals in suit, especially after wounding the criminals, knowing that such criminals could be hiding guns in their jackets?  The kind of warning that follows videos with dangerous stunts is instructive in Muna: “Do not try this anywhere, not just at home, because you will die.”  Yes, anyone who draws inspiration from Muna’s exploits and tries to replicate same will lose his or her life; nothing more, nothing less and nothing else. 

“Kevin Nwankwor’s Muna is likely to lessen the indignation of movie-goers who are displeased with Nollywood for making drama and comedy the dominant genres in their storytelling. “

 

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