Produced by Nollywood actress Toyin Abraham and directed by Adebayo Tijani, Ijakumo: The Born-Again Stripper was first released in Nigerian cinemas in December 2022. However, it was only recently released on Netflix, and it’s got everyone talking again.
So, is it worth watching? Is it worth all the hype? Is it even deserving of the critiques? We’re here to break it all down.
Ijakumo tells the story of a woman who had everything taken from her when her ex-boyfriend left her for dead. Toyin Abraham plays an older Asabi seeking revenge against an older Jide (Kunle Remi), who abandoned her and became a renowned pastor of a megachurch in Lagos. To achieve this, she enlists the help of a stripper and a hacker.
The plot, however complex, showed much promise, with interesting performances from the likes of Bimbo Akintola, Kunle Remi, Lolade Okunsanya, Olumide Owuru, and Debbie Shokoya, amongst others. On the surface, it’s a story about revenge, but the movie comes with much more layers and complexities than we are prepared for.
The set and locations were perhaps some of our favourite things about the movie, especially the scenes shot in Abeokuta. They were well-researched and realistic for what the scenes were hoping to achieve.
As it stands, Toyin Abraham seems determined not to be left out of the ongoing show-off of impressive stunts and SFX in Nollywood today. The stunts and SFX used in this movie were representative of how far we’ve come in the Nigerian movie industry; it’s hard not to be a little swayed by this show-off. We’re calling this one a major show-off not just because we have seen better between December and now but mainly because some of them were really unnecessary and only resulted in giving us exaggerated scenes and, in the end, an exaggerated plot. However, it would be unfair not to applaud the obvious work, dedication, and expense it took to give us those effects.
As stated earlier, the plot showed much promise, but unfortunately, it couldn’t deliver. We’re blaming bad story development and screenwriting for this one. Most of the complexities did little for the trajectory of the story itself; instead, what we got were a number of unnecessary characters and subplots. The ending, which was supposed to be grand, was bland. We didn’t get to feel that long-awaited sense of victory we had been waiting for all through the movie. Also, why have nearly all the recent Nollywood movies decided to finish us with flashbacks? We get that it is essential to the story, and this one in particular, but if you’re going to use flashbacks to drive your story, you better be doing it right.
A number of the flashbacks were so long that we nearly forgot they were merely flashbacks and not the present story. In some instances, we enjoyed the flashbacks much more than the scenes set in the present.
Now, we have one question: what happened to subtle advertising in movies? Drop a product in the scene and let the camera do the talking. Why are you doing full jingles in a movie? The worst part? This happened at least three times! Dear screenwriter, we have a bone to pick with you on that one. Lastly, the title? Definitely not it.
Ijakumo: The Born-Again Stripper is definitely pleasing with aesthetics but not so much with its story progression. You won’t miss much if you don’t see it, but you will miss some if you don’t. Get it?