A riveting follow-up to Kemi Adetiba's magnum opus.
After a successful box office run with King of Boys in 2018, veteran actress Sola Sobowale reprises her role as Eniola Salami in the much-anticipated sequel King of Boys: “The Return of The King”, produced and directed by renowned Nigerian filmmaker Kemi Adetiba.
Popularly called KOB, the Netflix original project picks up with Eniola’s triumphant comeback after a five-year exile. Her shocking return rattles the cage of her enemies, both old and new. She comes home to pick up the pieces after the deaths of her children, but with her once-trusted allies deserting her at her most vulnerable moment, she faces an even greater battle within herself for the redemption of her tortured soul.
The screenplay thickens the plot by introducing new characters such as Jumoke Randle ( Nse Ikpe Etim), Tunde Randle( Lord Frank), Reverend Ifeanyi (Richard Mofe Damijo also known as RMD), Adetola Fashina( Deyemi Okanlawon), Dapo Banjo( Efa Iwara), and Odudubariba( Charly Boy) amongst others. Also reprising their roles from King of Boys part one in this series are Osas Ighodaro( Sade Bello), Akin Lewis (Aare Akinwande), Ill Bliss (Odogwu Malay), Titi Kuti(Ade Tiger) and Keppy Ekpeyoung (Mumusa).
Episode one, titled “A King’s Welcome”, opens with Eniola Salami (Sola Sobowale) returning to Nigeria after all charges levied against her have been dropped by the government. Upon arrival, Salami is welcomed by the press and well-wishers. In her speech, Alhaja announces her intention to run for Governor of Lagos state and this primarily sets the political crime drama flick in motion.
The storyline of the project, which isn’t far off from its prequel, sees the lead character living through her struggles and trying to find peace, but her inner soul is beyond redemption; hence the war, this time, isn’t only with external forces – such as gang rivalry or political oppositions – but mainly with herself.
As thespian, Sola Sobowale is the physical embodiment of the theatre actress, constantly projecting with her voice and body language either in film or on stage to ensure the audience gets value for their money. It’s a hard trait to shake off, even when HD cameras allow you to carry a world of meaning in an eyebrow twitch. However, this flick presents her with the opportunity to indulge these quirks – sometimes all in a hot minute – but this time, the director chooses what situation th presents itself.
If you are looking to see Sola Sobowale in her stereotyped elements, you are in for a lot of surprises as Adetiba put all of that on Toni Tones, who plays the younger Salami, and it works perfectly for the character arc. This time Sobowale’s most prominent actions are in her silence, and as the popular saying goes, silence is golden. Interestingly, Sobowale’s delivery this time is very believable. A veteran actress, Sobowale has gained notoriety for her stereotyped “aggressive” roles and over-the-top delivery. In this sequel, however, she shakes loose this cliché persona, making the project a true testament to her incredible growth as an actor.
Threatening Alhaja Salami’s seat for governorship this time is Nse Ikpe Etim’s role as Jumoke Randle, the first lady of Lagos State. Jumoke Randle has sacrificed too much to get her husband the gubernatorial seat, and she isn’t about to let anyone hinder his chances for a second term. Nse’s acting prowess has never been in question; she delivers effortlessly, but her role here was more intense, and the way she carries the character makes you believe Eniola Salami has some real competition in Randle.
Coming in as the underdog is Efa Iwara, who plays the role of an investigative journalist on the verge of unraveling one of the biggest scandals involving Alhaja Salami’s sudden return from exile. His delivery of the character Banjo gradually evolved into one of the most critical elements of the story and brought some riveting twists to this motion picture. Iwara’s interpretation of the character was attention-grabbing, and I was eager to see how his persona metamorphosed as the story progressed.
Meaty roles like this – written for women of a certain age, with characters with full and interesting lives that do not revolve around husbands or children – are still a Nollywood rarity and Kemi Adetiba showed out with these two characters. Their confrontations and dialogues exude power in all ramifications and they both feed off each other's energy while delivering their lines.
As much as the story presents a viable reason for a sequel with its strong story arc, KOB: Return of the King could have stayed solid as a three-part limited series. With a runtime of forty-five minutes per episode, the series dragged along in its first three episodes and only began to pick up in episode four. Some scenes were also not relevant to the story, and they paid less attention to some basic details. Nevertheless, it seems that's Adetiba’s style of building momentum and not spoon-feeding the audience.
One major win for this original Netflix project is its production technicalities; the cinematography by Kagho Idehebor is visually endearing. The use of close-up shots and camera movements made it plain sailing to see Adetiba’s vision as a viewer. The camera angles take us into the emotions of the characters, especially that of Eniola Salami. The production design by Tunji Afoloyan also shows how much work went into making Lagos State a character in the film: showcasing the governor’s office in a detailed manner and presenting the Statehouse with so much presence.
Every single element from costume, to sound, make-up, props and location, added quality to the entire production.
It would be a disservice not to give props to the VFX team of this project. The fighting scenes, the bloodstains, the shootings, and the approach to filming works remarkably, and for a moment, I thought I was watching a Hollywood flick.
KOB: “The Return of the King” is a testimony that Nollywood is finally ready. Hugely plot-driven, the story is thrilling and moves with a bang as the twists and turns come tumbling in. The themes are numerous – power, greed, vengeance, religion, and feminism – but corruption pretty much sums things up nicely – corruption in high and low places, in business, politics, society, and personal relationships.
This series illustrates the ways that innocence is lost and observes how evil begins to seep into people’s lives, acting in a positive feedback mechanism to foul up everything it comes in contact with.
Finally, if you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, then you’ll have to stay through it all. KOB does get it as the series draws towards its closing sequence, and interestingly, Kemi Adetiba just might have given a hint for a second season.
King of Boys: The Return of the King is streaming on Netflix from August 27th.
Words: Damilola Aleje
Featured Images Credits: Netflix/King of Boys