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article imageReview: TIFF 2019: ‘Crazy World’ makes its own rules Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 16, 2019 in Entertainment
‘Crazy World’ is a one-of-a-kind movie experience from Uganda, featuring child kung-fu masters, lots of gunfire and an important message.
It’s not a secret that mainstream Western films, particularly those produced by the Hollywood machine, follow a generic set of rules that dictate character development, storytelling style, visual specs and cast types. These formulas are being increasingly challenged, but they’re not going anywhere any time soon. Therefore, one of the best ways to have a different film experience is to seek out movies from other countries — particularly those establishing their film industry and culture within the constraints of their country’s resources. Crazy World is a Ugandan action movie made in their unique style with a pre-recorded “video joker” commentary.
A commando returns home only to watch his family destroyed and daughter kidnapped by the Tiger Mafia (a frequent antagonist). The local gang is snatching children so Mr. Big — ironically, another child in a suit — can harness their magical blood properties in a ritual sacrifice in order to protect his investments and get richer. However, the thugs make the mistake of rounding up the “Waka Stars,” a group of kids who are also trained kung-fu masters uninterested in waiting around for their parents to complete a rescue mission. Fists and bullets fly as the corrupt gangsters meet their match in these families ready to stand up against these atrocities.
Ugandan filmmakers have been making these over-the-top action movies for decades, but this is only the third feature to reach an international audience. Wakaliwood was established by writer/director Nabwana I.G.G. to give the Ugandan film industry a name and outlet for local productions. The action pictures are unique not only in their gonzo style, but the accompanying commentary that accentuates and complements the on-screen narrative. The voiceover is drawn from the native tradition of a video joker providing a live accompaniment for Western movies shown in foreign languages without subtitles, so audiences can still understand what they’re watching. The commentary is comedic, and ranges from explaining the context of a scene to poking fun at the villains to exclaiming at the incredible action. This distinctive element adds a whole other level of entertainment to the picture that’s reminiscent of shout-out performances of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, but more spontaneous.
On the flipside, while this movie is highly entertaining, it’s also I.G.G.’s way of addressing a serious issue in Uganda. While various mediums have covered child abductions and the plight of child soldiers, there is a very real problem in the country of the rich sacrificing children to maintain and/or improve their stations. In a disturbing twist, I.G.G. actually made the film in the hopes of shedding light on the less publicized topic and discouraging the abduction of his own children.
This exceptional film experience was boasted by the presence of Video Joker Emmie, the director, and a live feed of his family and friends, a.k.a. the actors and crew, watching the post-screening Q&A from their home in Uganda. Moreover, the picture opened with an amusing anti-piracy warning that depicts a military squad monitoring the screening from abroad and an interactive section in which the “Piracy Hunter” sends a thief to Somalia for punishment (get it?). One can only hope more of their movies are made available as Western audiences have never seen anything like it. But after seeing one, viewers will definitely have an appetite for more.
Crazy World had its world premiere in the Midnight Madness category at the Toronto International Film Festival. Don’t miss the rest of our TIFF 2019 coverage.
Director: Nabwana I.G.G.
Starring: Mukiibi Alex, Kirabo Beatrice and Kayibaare Fausitah
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