In terms of production quality, cinematography, props and costuming, I doubt if any movie has come close to King of Boys by Kemi Adetiba in recent times.
I am even more impressed that this movie was produced by a woman. Our ladies are making waves and that is what we should all be proud of.
I am going to look at the movie from two angles: literary work and dramatisation.
In terms of CONFLICT, CLIMAXING and DENOUEMENT (pronounced ‘de-nu-mo’), King of Boys is 100% good story in Part One. But that also throws up the tragedy of success and the need to ride and build on public acceptance of a work of art.
Is Part Two necessary? I won’t attempt to answer that question. But suffice to say that the original plot in the first part is expanded which throws up critical questions that will give good materials for literary scholars and movie critics to chew on.
Eniola Salami (played by Sola Sobowale) has ‘two faces’ in Part One. She delivers her role so brilliantly that I clapped for her when I watched the first part. Her combination of corporate mien and the brutality of a thug in the first scene (sequence one) of the movie (where she personally bludgeons a man to death) while her birthday party is going (with the governor in attendance) sets the tone for what viewers are to expect throughout that first part.
Now, in that scene, after killing the man, she rubs her blood-stained hand on her wrapper and she goes back to the party downstairs without any scene showing she cleans up. Doesn’t anyone see the blood?
That is not production flaw but that of DRAMATISATION.
Th first aim of a work of art, especially movies, is to ensure that evil does not have the final say over good. And that has always been at the back of the mind of movie producers all over the world: evil doers hardly get away with their acts. They usually pay.
Eniola Salami pays heavily in Part One: she loses her two kids, gets jailed and is saved by Officer Gobir at last minute when fire is set on the detention facility she is kept. She can’t also get the ministerial appointment she wants due to her connection to the underworld. She is helped to escape which practically ends Part One.
In Part Two, she wants to be governor but her campaign is floundering as no one wants to associate with her.
And then the sub-plots that raise more questions than answers. Reason: real geographical names are used: LAGOS and NIGERIA!
This automatically imposes on the producer the need to reflect diversity and extent of her influence that is so strong that she practically installed the President. Nigeria is more than Lagos ‘nah’! And while she is in exile and all her accounts are frozen.
She disguises to see the President and from the dialogue, she has the President by the balls. But the story is silent on how she installed the President as no where was he (the President) showed in Part One. The closest was Aare (Akin Lewis) referring to him. Or did I miss it?
Secondly, her influence, as depicted in Part One, does not go beyond Lagos and the underworld criminal kingpins. So how did she and her other criminal lords install the President to the extent that she forces him to change the party’s guber candidate for Lagos State?
I am not doubting the possibility of this, but HOW they installed the President should have been dramatised!
The introduction of Nse Ikpe-Etim (First Lady Jumoke Randle) is another masterstroke. But again, while the lady is exceptionally talented, she seems to over-act and over-deliver her lines with a seeming unchanging body movements (especially upper parts) which take NATURALITY and ORIGINALITY out of her delivery. She does this in virtually all her movies.
Now, since a semblance of originality is brought to the movie (with the use of verifiable geographical names), that should have reflected in the dramatisation.
There are many highly classified, confidential and high level conversations in the movie that are made in the presence of so many people (you may read aides; personal and security). That is NEVER the case in the real world of politics.
That was why I said earlier that I am looking at this movie as a literary work (literature is a mirror of life) and dramatisation (bringing fiction into our faces with intention of reality).
The ‘negotiation’ between First Lady Randle and Eniola Salami (where the former gives a blank cheque) should never have been done in the open with retinue of aides standing and listening to such conversation. Since Salami could trust Randle enough to meet with her, then that trust should extend to the two of them being left alone to ‘negotiate’. Let them say unprintable things to themselves but it ends inside that room.
Secondly, same plays out when they are going for debate. Some of the things said by Salami to Mrs. Randle should never be for the ears of her aides. I totally object to this!
And above all, can a governorship Aspirant meet the wife of the incumbent and the would be throwing insults in the presence of their aides?
In real life politics, Presidents and governors meet with very shady characters that only very, very few of even their closest aides will know they held such meetings. But even at that, details of such meetings are never disclosed. They only see results of them.
Even in that same movie, when Salami’s campaign strategist wants to discuss some key issues with her, on why her campaign is floundering, he asks all his staff to vacate the room. Why can’t same dramatisation be replicated when even far, far more serious and sensitive issues are being discussed?
Do you also notice that there is no scene where regular policemen are used as security details. Even for the governor and his wife. All are bouncers. That is not the case in real political settings which tye movie tries to replicate.
Finally, any work of art must never allow evil to win over good. But King of Boys failed in this front. Despite her atrocities, Salami gets away with it all in Part Two and still becomes governor. She kills everyone and escapes and still gloats over their graves.
That’s why I said ordinarily, the movie ended on a good note in Part One where she pays for her atrocities.
But I learnt Netflix got involved and something had to be stringed together to produce Part Two.
And despite these flaws, it is still a production master-class.
– Ajayi is a top journalist and writer