From Niyi Akinmolayan’s ‘The Set Up’ to Ishaya Bako’s ‘4th Republic’, Akinyemi Sebastian Akinropo’s ‘Coming from Insanity’, Kunle Afolayan’s ‘Mokalik’, and Mike Steve’s ‘Code Wilo’ 2019, Nollywood fans were treated to some good cinematic experience.
However, Ramsey Tokunbo Nouah, the director of ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free,’ the sequel to 1992 blockbuster, ‘Living in Bondage’ remains distinct as the director of the year.
The veteran actor, who now wears the toga of a director, enjoyed good reviews, commendations, and accolades for his directorial debut, which was co-produced by Charles Okpaleke and Steve Gukas.
An embodiment of sterling performances revisiting the first cross-culture Nollywood movie, Nouah told a captivating tale of the untold fetish and occultic activities associated with ‘Living in Bondage: breaking Free’ making it the best thing we saw on the big screen in 2019.
The film provided Nouah with a perfect opportunity to announce his directorial debut. And he did amid a resounding arrival cheers.
Ramsey Nouah must have learned some good lessons in almost three decades of actively practicing in Nollywood with his wonderful execution of the sequel to 90s blockbuster, ‘Living in Bondage’.
These lessons - in acting and directing - were put to good use by Nouah, who directed and took on the role of the powerful yet flamboyant villain, Richard Williams, in ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’.
Just as Chris Obi Rapu’s ‘Living in Bondage’ became one of Nollywood’s classics that defined an era, Ramsey Nouah's ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ is a game-changer that will set the pace for how sequels should be treated and executed going forward in Nollywood.
Between 1992 and 2019, a lot has gone down in Nigeria’s socio-political scene as well as the entertainment world. Several events have shaped the existence of an average Nigerian youth who was born 27-years-ago.
Without showing a flashback scene - as it’s the case with many Nollywood sequels - or taking away from the Kenneth Nnebue and Okechukwu Ogunjiofor’s plot for ‘Living in Bondage I,’ Nouah through his directing abilities reminded viewers and new fans of LIB the story of Andy Okeke (played by Kenneth Okonkwo) and Merit Okeke (played by Nnenna Nwabueze), the wealth, occultic events and the stigma.
From the opening montage, ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ sets an unusual pace that keeps the viewers’ mind racing back to the events that made the 1992 blockbuster a hit.
Not only did Nouah worked perfectly on the film, but he was also able to bring out the best of Swanky JKA, who takes on the role of Nnamdi Okeke. Swanky JKA might have been seen as a talent but never has any director stretched him to bring out the best in him for a film in over five months.
The well-written plot by Nicole Asinugo and CJ Obasi was matched by Nouah’s directorial skills that depicted Nnamdi’s vaunting quest for the big life in real glamorous and opulent pictures.
Though it’s easy for viewers to predict what the story plot will be, the twist to how Andy Okeke became a thorn in the flesh of the brotherhood for the second time after 27 years is where this Nouah’s directing ability got the sequel its rightful place as a thorough and well-executed film project.
Helming a film project like ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ is consuming and overwhelming enough for any director yet Nouah went ahead to combine this workload with taking on the role of the villain, Richard Williams. And the decision is a no brainer as he deftly switched from an affluent and world-class billionaire to the spiritual leader of a powerful occult known as ‘The Six’ yet directing the scenes.
While Asinugo and Obasi painted Richard Williams as a devil bent on retrieving the debt of the Okeke clan, the writers notably give a hint of another plot which might make ‘Living in Bondage’ the first sequential trilogy.
Nouah’s refreshing art of direction, and approach is both exceptional and thorough. And the result is the success of the film, which went on to break a Nollywood record of N25million after two days in the cinema.
Call Ramsey Nouah a finicky director and you won’t be totally wrong. He was said to have not only taken charge of his set but knew exactly what he wanted and with the support of the producers etched his name on the list of best directors in 2019.
Since the release of ‘Living in Bondage: Breaking Free’ in November 2018, he has become the year's most thrilling filmmaker and had everyone who pays attention to Nollywood, anticipating the film to surpass his feat in 2019. And we can't wait to see her next plan for the big screen.