Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010), recommended by Apex Predator (RT)
African cinema is booming! And that’s no joke. In the last 15-20 years, the output from African filmmakers has increased more and more; and Who Killed Captain Alex? is Uganda’s gift to us. The film was written, produced, directed, and edited by Isaac Nabwana (a.k.a. Nabwana IGG), an aspiring filmmaker working from a slum in Kampala. The film has a reported budget of $200, and watching it one has to wonder where they went?
The film follows an ensuing battle between the local military, led by Captain Alex (Kakule William), and a “crime syndicate” called the Tiger Mafia, led by Richard (Sserunya Ernest). When Alex mysteriously appears dead, the military blame the Tiger Mafia, while his brother - a ninja/karate expert - sets out for revenge. But the truth of the matter is that the plot is largely nonsensical, and mostly an excuse to put two groups running through the jungle while they shoot at each other.
I believe that to properly review this kind of film, or any film, one has to put things in the proper perspective. What were the circumstances behind the production? what is the intention of the filmmaker? and more importantly, were you entertained? This Ugandan film has almost unanimously awful performances (maybe Ernest is the exception as bad guy Richard), the special effects were cheaper than those in an Asylum film, and the overall editing and narrative flow lacks coherence.
But when you realize that it was made in a poor slum with untrained actors, by a director who’s working on an old Acer computer from his own home, with days-long power outages every week, well, it’s actually impressive to see the end result. To be honest, the direction is far from bad. Nabwana knows about camera placement, and even though the quality of the image is not the best, you get the idea that he knows what he is doing. Plus, the fight choreography is pretty solid, which, for an action film has to be important.
The film starts by saying that the film is “lost”. Between the electricity issues in his house and the lack of proper resources, Nabwana had to delete the film to make space for his next one. What is survived is a DVD master featuring a “video joker” (turns out that “video jokers” are a common practice in some African theaters, adding commentary, translations, and jokes during the show). That gives you an idea of what is behind this film.
IMO, it is worth a watch. Be it because you want to laugh at it, or because you want to take a look at how cinema “grows” in a different country, check it out. I can respect Nabwana’s passion and devotion for bringing to their country, a fun and action-packed film, regardless of the struggles. And judging from all that I’ve read about the film on the Internet, looks like he succeeded.
To add perspective to the film, I recommend the following articles:
Who Killed Captain Alex?: The Best Worst Film of 2010, Uganda-Style @ Huffington Post
A Ugandan Filmmaker’s Quest to Conquer the Planet with Low-Budget Action Movies @ VICE