Thursday, 27 July 2017

CLASSIC REEL THURSDAY: Owo Blow





Cast: Taiwo Hassan, Rachael Oniga, Adewale Elesho, Yinka Quadri and Femi Adebayo

Directed by: Tade Ogidan

Year of Release: 1997/98

Plot: After a man is unjustly convicted, his family falls into hard times.  His son does everything he can to provide for his mother and siblings and inevitably chooses the wrong path. When he tries to leave the past behind, it continues to plague him.

Released in 3 parts- The Genesis, The Revolt and The Final Struggle; Owo Blow is a classic Nollywood film trilogy that takes a very harsh look at poverty, corruption and  the slow extinction of the middle class in Nigeria. 

The main character, Wole, was played as a teenager by Femi Adebayo (his film debut); son of veteran Nollywood actor, Adebayo Salami a.k.a Oga Bello, who had a cameo in the movie. Among the cast is a young Bimbo Akintola as his sister, Lanre Hassan as their sympathetic neighbour, Binta Ayo Mogaji as the malicious, gossipy one and the late veteran actor, Sam Loco Efe as their landlord. Delta State actress Rachael Oniga played the main character’s mother, her first role in a Yoruba film.


The movie begins when his father (Kayode Odumosu) intervenes in the harsh treatment of traders by the State Task Force during a raid in the market, resulting in the deaths of several people. When he confronts his boss over the incident and the obvious corruption being practised, he’s arrested and unjustly sentenced to serve time in prison. One will be immediately appalled at the miscarriage of justice and the behaviour of corrupt police officers. After being kicked out of school for not being able to pay for his tuition, Wole is forced to adopt various means to make ends meet, (either his father didn’t leave much savings or his money was seized).  
After carrying out menial jobs from washing clothes to being a bus conductor. After he loses his job, he’s driven by sheer desperation and bad advice and becomes a purse snatcher.
 Even his sister Mope (Akintola) was forced to prostitute herself to be able to provide for the family in her own way and alas... met a sad fate. Unfortunately it was in keeping with their situation. Morals, dignity and principles are tossed aside; the only thing on their minds is survival. After he’s beaten by a mob for stealing, Wole’s innocence is lost and he becomes homeless, too ashamed to face his mother. Then he meets up with an old classmate and joins his band of ‘Area Boys’, street hustlers who solicit people for money. Returning home, he gets sad news and no longer cares anymore. He takes an even darker path, armed robbery.

Later played as an adult by Taiwo Hassan, Wole is the leader of the gang several years later and lectures his men about carrying out their operations without bloodshed. He knew very well robbing people of their money and valuables was wrong but didn’t want the guilt of taking people’s lives either. While not defending criminals or Crime itself, Wole is a character that one cannot help sympathise with... to some extent.  His actions weren’t motivated by greed but all  the same, the viewers might find themselves rooting for him and hope he would eventually leave this dark venture and lead a clean life, making up for the past.


And he tries to. He goes back to school, becomes a well liked and connected philanthropist, leaves the gang and gets married; to his mother’s delight. His former men on the other hand live life on the fast lane, spending their money mostly on women and what not- marked difference between Wole and them. But Wole’s past wouldn’t leave him alone and he finally finds himself between a rock and a hard place.
The movie is a great example of social realism, the actors and actresses's  performances outstanding, especially Sam Loco Efe's comic role of the lascivious landlord, then later Wole's ally. Seeing him in a Yoruba movie and actually speaking the language was a huge surprise but his acting scored points. 

  Written and directed by Tade Ogidan (who is very good at what he does) you are guaranteed an entertaining time, because there were no irrelevant or annoying scenes that dragged on for so long. 
 Owo Blow is a true classical trilogy and a moralistic tale that  is a must watch.  


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