When a movie stays in your mind after you’ve seen it, it’s either really good or really bad. In the case of The Woman King, it lingers on the surface of your subconscious long after the credits have stopped. Oh, just an fyi, stay for the credits as there’s more to see. In the West African kingdom of Dahomey, a unit of female warriors known as the Agojie are a fierce group protecting the King Ghezo and also on a mission to rescue Dahomean women who have been captured by slavers of the Oyo Empire. The film tells of the Agojie women warriors’ story creatively with a balance of true history and myth giving it an African female version of Braveheart kind of vibe. It has heart, soul and lots of bloody action scenes!
The main cast consists of Oscar®-winner Viola Davis as Nanisca, the strong and loyal General of the Agojie but with demons of her past, Lashana Lynch as Izogie the elder warrior who befriends new recruit, Nawi played by South African actor Thuso Mbedu and Sheila Atim as Amenza the loyal warrior and friend to Nanisca. While most of the story revolves around these four women, the casting of all the actors elevates the intensity while the attention to detail gives credibility to the storyline. Viola Davis is brilliant.
Heroic, yet not without vulnerability. Lashana Lynch draws you into the psyche of Izogie showing that an unapologetic tough exterior can be shattered by the purity of friendship. Thuso Mbedu is formidable as Nawi bringing to life the young but assertive and courageous wanna-be warrior while Sheila Atim portrays a fearless and combative Amenza with an subtle fun playfulness.
Fighting to stave off the Oyo Empire and its General, Oba Ade played by Jimmy Odukoya, the Agiojie are on constant alert, ready to protect their people and the lucrative endeavours that make Dahomey a rich and powerful kingdom. Nanisca’s past is haunted by her trauma of being raped and impregnated by Ode, forcing her to give up the baby to an orphanage. Whilst recruiting and training up new female warriors Nanisca discovers that Nawi is the baby girl she had to give up and the relationship between the two grows into acceptance.
The fight scenes in The Woman King are bloody and glorious, not shying away from the brute of the battle to show that these women warriors give their best if not better than the men of that time. It’s good to see a movie that isn’t tokenistic. It tells the story as it should. The Woman King is well worth the visit to the cinema. There’s nothing better than seeing a movie like this on the big screen.
Movie Review By Anastasia Lambis