The We Are One Film Festival that went on for the past couple of weeks, providing free access to a variety of films on YouTube, served as my introduction to Ugandan cinema with Nabwana I.G.G.’s Crazy World. If Crazy World is anything to go by, Ugandan cinema is certainly something I need to do a deep dive into in the near future. With a runtime of hardly over an hour (and part of that coming from introductions recorded for the festival), and a budget that I couldn’t quite pin down but that, by all accounts, seems to be in the range of under $200, Crazy World makes the most of everything put into it and delivers a movie that’s funnier, more action packed, and just better than its big studio American counterparts that quite literally spend a million times as much money on their productions.
Crazy World is ostensibly about child kidnapping in Uganda by the Tiger Mafia, a group looking to sacrifice their kidnapped children, and a handful of parents who fight to get their children back. Kidnapping children for sacrifice is a real problem in Uganda that the film certainly brought my attention to but, despite that, the film plays almost all of its moments for laughs even when about those sorts of issues. The kidnapped children know kung fu, the kidnappers meet goofily gory ends, and one is mistaken for a child and kidnapped himself, all leading to a sort of revenge fantasy that makes it no wonder Nabwana I.G.G. has been called the Quentin Tarantino of Uganda even if his jokes are more centered on play by plays of fights than terrible Italian skills.
Though made on a hardly existent budget, special effects related to the gore are never skimped on, with condoms filled with red liquid (which was apparently real blood in some older productions though that has been discontinued since causing a crewmember to get sick) being blown up to create a blood spatter effect that may not be entirely convincing if you’re looking for realism but plays into the over-the-top action film feel it’s going for and looks like anything in the most recent Rambo film. Coupled with some computer-generated visual effects to simulate guns being fired and buildings falling down, it leans into the campiness but always to its benefit as something that seems more an ingenious use of available materials than the a lazy use of tired methods which can seem in a run of the mill American action film. Further buoying the fascination brought by the action is the fact that all of the performers seem to be very determined to make something good with fight choreography that is often quite impressive.
Despite the action being exceptional, especially considering the microbudget, the best bits of the film came from the times when it gave up trying to be like any other film and leaned fully into the absurd. A message warning against piracy while flying around the world (rendered in something that might’ve been MS Paint) to the Indiana Jones theme and fighting people with baguette shooters and discovering what Ryan Gosling’s next movie project is was a standout moment. It was something that simply couldn’t be found anywhere else and one of those times where a movie has truly surprised me and given me exactly what I come to movies for. But the best part is most definitely the running commentary track that cannot be turned off. With such interjections as “movie movie movie!” and “fights like a tiger, stings like a bitch” coming in the middle of major fight scenes and more plot explanations coming from the commentary than the film itself, it was an entirely unexpected but always amusing tactic that once again overcame budgetary restrictions in allowing for omissions of showing certain plot points but giving the film a distinct style.
If I were to lodge one complaint about Crazy World, it would be that the middle section dragged a bit, without the action from the beginning and end and with a more plot-heavy segment that didn’t use much narration, but the rest of the film was so much fun that I can’t complain too much. I am eager to return to watch more wacky and exhilarating productions from Wakaliwood.