Movie title: shanty town
Release date: January 20, 2023
Runtime: Average 30 minutes per episode
Director: Dimeji Ajibola
Cast: Richard Mofe-Damijo, Ini Edo, Chidi Mokeme, Nse Ekpe-Etim, Shola Shobowale, Shaffy Bello, Ali Nuhu, Uche Jombo, Zubby Michael, Nancy Isime, Yaw Naija, Omowunmi Dada, Mercy Eke, Shola Sobowale, Regina Daniels , Judith Audu and Peter Okoye.
Have you ever watched a movie and said to yourself, “Only if more attention was paid to details, then this movie would be amazing?”
From the stables of the popular streaming platform, Netflix, comes Shanty Town, an action-packed drama series exploring the lives of sex workers, gang leaders and corrupt politicians in Lagos.
Being Netflix’s first original project of 2023, there were high expectations placed on the six-part series.
Aside from the sneak peek materials and cast announcement, the Shanty Town premises alone were enough to keep our fingers crossed in anticipation of a thrilling Nigerian drama.
Upon release, Shanty Town can easily be described as mid-scale. Aside from the excellent acting performances, the series lacks a sense of originality and seems like a good example of what happens when the Oloture, King of Boys and Blood Sisters stories merge into one.
A flashback takes us to the Shangisha community, where we see a mother and her two daughters fleeing from bandits. Unfortunately, as they are about to escape, one of the daughters is shot.
Today, we see a ruthless leader named Scar (Chidi Mokeme), who runs several shady deals. Also, he is considered the king of a community called Shantytown. We see him talking to the accountant (Ali Nuhu), a representative of a higher authority.
After the meeting between Scar and the accountant, Scar goes to a party thrown for Jackie (Mercy Ike), a soon-to-be ex-prostitute in Shanty Town.
At her freedom party, Jackie pitches the idea of winning her freedom to Shalewa (Nancy Isime), another sex worker and friend. Shalewa is delighted at the prospect of hers and is overjoyed when Jackie promises to lend her the money.
Things don’t go as planned when Scar reveals that Shalewa owes more than he realizes.
ALSO READ: Lagos government demolishes shanty town on Lekki coastal road
Meanwhile, another character, Inem (Ini Edo), is released from prison. She is informed that she was once a sex worker in Shanty Town, but left due to the role she played in a drug crime.
In the second episode, it is finally revealed that the person Scar is working with is Chief Fernández (Richard Mofe-Damijo), a politician. With the election looming, Chief Fernandez asks Scar to curb some of his illegal activities, which doesn’t sit well with the crime lord.
On Scar’s way back to Shanty Town, he murders an unsuspecting Jackie and is kidnapped by the Governor, Dame Dabota (Shaffy Bello), who comes up with a plan.
To execute his plan to destroy Chief Fernandez, Scar enlists the help of Shalewa, who has established a form of connection to Chief Frenadez’s son, Femi (Peter Okoye).
In an attempt to speed up the process of making Femi his father’s downfall, Scar gives Shalewa an amulet to use on the man.
Later episodes bring shocking revelations, as Inem is an undercover agent who wants to avenge the death of her twin sister. g were the two sisters at the beginning of the film.
Inem decides to free Moji (Nse Ekpe-Etim) and the other ladies of Shanty Town by hatching a plan to get rid of Scar.
During a lunch date, both Femi and Shalewa are kidnapped by Dame Dobota and taken to a hideout. After several attempts to kill Chief Fernández, the chaos ensured that both sides attacked with skill; Chief Fernandez escaped. However, his victory is short-lived when he is arrested.
zubby michaels the good guy
Shanty Town is a great testament to how much Nollywood actors have grown by honing their craft. The cast’s performances were truly professional and had an exhilarating effect on the viewers.
Where do we start? Is it Chidi Okoreme who gives us chills through the role of Scar, Ini Edo who makes us root for Inem because of her versatility, Mercy Eke who, despite having few scenes, made us fall in love with her and cry when Jackie died? ? , or Shaffy Bello, who doesn’t deliver the lines but adds subtle social cues to make them more believable?
The cinematography is another excellent feature of the film. The amount of expertise that went into filming each scene was remarkable. A scene that is a great example to reinforce this point would be the opening scene, where we are introduced to the Shangisha community. Everything from the camera angles to the bombshell effect kept us on the edge of our seats.
There were also several political satires that made reference to problems that affect our society. Although hidden, one could easily associate some characters with certain prominent figures.
Shaffy Bello The Return
As mentioned above, Chidi Okoreme gives an excellent acting performance. The role of her as Chidi hits the ball out of the park. As well as aptly portraying the intricacies behind the character, it reminds us why we refer to him as the lousy boy of OG Nollywood.
This would be the actor’s first role in a significant budget film in the last five years. The release of Shanty Town is a comeback for the talented actor who starred in early 2000s films like Abuja connection, Blood Battle, Anini, Savior and Last Kobo.
Ali Nuhu the bad
While Shanty Town has a great concept behind it, the various tropes make the movie lack originality. Instead of putting a new spin on the tropes, Shanty Town goes the cliché route and focuses more on visual effects and stunts.
For example, the gang leader who works for politicians has been done before; she has also become a lady who wants to take revenge on her twin; two political rivals determined to bring themselves down; and the sexualization of women through prostitution is the starting point of some crime dramas.
The script makes matters worse as watching Shanty town can make you wonder where the story is heading and what’s up with bland dialogues. It’s also predictable, as during the opening scene, one could easily assume the shot twin wasn’t dead, so her character would be following a vengeful plot.
The movie dragged a lot due to some unnecessary shots. For example, the dance scene during Jackie’s freedom party could have been shown in a minute, and the fight scenes between the fans felt like the producers were trying to tell us how much work went into the stunts.
It slowly feels like Nollywood writers are relying on the “juju” theme to explain how a villain gains his power and becomes invincible. While it’s nice that the writers explore certain cultural elements, it was a painful show in this series.
6/10. Look at it. Shanty Town may not have been a great way to start the year, but the acting and cinematography are excellent.
Shanty Town is now streaming on Netflix.