Does “Sugar Rush” Really Hit the Sweet Spot? – Joy Mamudu

Many of us, even those who do not indulge in the precarious pastime of watching Nigerian movies, recently heard about a movie called Sugar Rush mostly because it was mysteriously pulled from cinemas only a week or so after its premiere. The buzz resulting from the The National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB) decision to remove the movie from public viewing would undoubtedly go on to expand the PR already deployed before the movie launch.

A lot of people most likely got to see it simply because they heard of the ban and were curious as to what could have been so controversial about a single film. That’s all very well and good as it might have in some small measure added to increased viewership and ticket sales for the movie producers as well as growth for the film industry as a whole.

Produced by Jade Osiberu, it has Kayode Kasum as director and boasts quite a popular cast list. The movie follows what I like to call an “Are We There Yet?” storyline, meaning that the protagonist has a clear destination but in order to reach there must first face numerous detours and comical adventures along the way. The protagonist in this case is played by the lovable Adesua Etomi-Wellington, daughter of a widow whose character tells us that all her life she has tried to be responsible for her mum and two sisters. Her name is Susie Sugar and her sisters are Sola, played by Bisola Aiyeola and Bola, played by silver screen sweetheart Bimbo Ademoye.

Susie and Sola each unbeknown to the other, have plans of making money off a rich chief. He invites them both to a party and both sisters end up making away with a duffel bag containing $800,000. We are then introduced to two EFCC officials who are supposed to be staking out the venue. The cast list fleshes out to include their boss played by Omoni Oboli and a Yoruba demon boyfriend in the person of Tobi Bakre. There is a rather compelling performance by Uzor Arukwe who plays an interesting mafia-type character. The male lead is played by Mawuli Gavor and of course, we get a sense that his and Adesua’s character are drawn to each other. 

From this point on, the movie spirals into a blur of activity, with Susie taking risks to ensure that their sick mother is taken care of, while the other two sisters simply try to live the good life for the gram. All the main characters soon get caught up in a race for different reasons. Towards the end, a villain played by Banky W is introduced. This character is more intriguing than most and one wonders why one had to wait this long to meet him. There is a somewhat clumsy attempt here to de-stigmatize “jazz” or voodoo and turn it into some kind of Fast and Furious meets Avengers type of technology. While I am not convinced that a lot of the plot was necessary, much less logical, the journey through the storyline is pleasant enough and aided by heavily sweetened popcorn, a fizzy drink and the company of a friend, it goes down easily enough. 

Overall, the movie probably tried to be too many things at the same time, with too many characters who each tried to centralize themselves. Also, we are reminded that action movies are not the forte of the Nigerian film industry. The use of slow motion in the night club “fight” scene is utterly uncalled for, as is the need to rewind a barely well-executed car explosion at the end. Perhaps these were done for comic effect, in which case I can let them slide. All in all, the movie is well put together in terms of picture and sound quality, costuming and set design.

However, the strength of this film lies, pretty much, with the cast; almost all the main characters are played by beloved actors, so the entire production gives an endorphin rush.

( Joy Mamudu is an aspiring writer and poet who sometimes tweets dangerously via @msmeddle)

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