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Femi Adebayo’s ‘King of Thieves: Ageshinkole’ has indeed captured the hearts of many cinema-goers. So much so that not only is it one of the highest-grossing cinema outings of all time but also is the first Nigerian mainstream movie to have been exclusively shot in an indigenous language – a feat that projects a bright future for Nollywood titles shot in indigenous languages.
‘King of Thieves’ unveils the story of a prince who is tricked into committing a crime and unjustly killed. He then becomes the titular ‘Agesinkole: King of Thieves’ a powerful thief who returns from the dead to exact revenge on the people who killed him and, in the process, defends victims of injustice like himself.
‘King of Thieves’ is currently the most popular Yoruba indigenous movie to embody a ‘victim of injustice becoming a robber to right personal or societal wrongs‘ construct. However, it isn’t the only one.
If your interest has been piqued by ‘King of Thieves’, then here are five other indigenous Nollywood ‘bandit-themed’ movies that you might enjoy.
1. Olokiki Oru 1-4 (2019)
Before Ibrahim Chatta starred as Oguntade – the young hunter who has to confront the dreaded Agesinkole to save his life in ‘King of Thieves’ – he starred in ‘Olokiki Oru’ as Ayero, a robber who is tricked by his teammates into robbing a town – protected against all forms of thievery by a curse – as the only way he would retain his share of their plundering. The mission however leads to his arrest and immediate execution. He then returns from the dead as the titular Olokiki Oru – a blind, immortal bandit – to exact revenge on everyone who had betrayed him.
The 2019 outing stars Lateef Adedimeji, Taiwo Hassan, Foluke Daramola, and iconic Fuji King Saheed Osupa in supporting roles.
2. Shola Arikusa 1-3 (2017)
Interestingly, ‘Shola Arikusa’ is the only female-led movie on this list. After Ademuyiwa Arikusa – a wealthy prince – is murdered alongside his wife and his only son in a kingship tussle by members of a cabal seeking to control a town, his only daughter Shola (Fathia Williams) acquires supernatural powers and becomes ‘Shola Arikusa’, the dreaded armed robber & vigilante.
She goes all out in a revenge rampage to kill everyone who was involved in the death of her family and to break the cabal’s hold on the town. Quite unlike Agesinkole in ‘King of Thieves’, Shola Arikusa helps the common townspeople with the proceeds from her spoils (a near replica of Hollywood’s Robinhood).
The movie stars fantastic performers such as Odunlade Adekola, Femi Adebayo, and Yinka Quadri (among others) and is directed by Okiki Afolayan.
One thing that makes ‘Shola Arikusa’ a great watch is the performance of Odunlade Adekola as the Alfa Olorunyoyin, a self-righteous fanatical Islamic cleric. His performance cast a huge spell on the Nigerian audience so much that one of his lines in the movie “I hate ungodly acts” is now a popular feature on social media.
3. Alani Pamolekun Part 1-3 (2015)
Another popular title in the class of ‘King of Thieves’, Alani Pamolekun stars Nollywood actor Odunlade Adekola as the movie’s eponymous hero. The plot unveils the story of a dreaded bandit running riots in a city and frustrating all efforts to arrest him. The city’s law enforcement agents must utilize everything at their disposal to bring him down.
The movie is also directed by Odunlade Adekola and stars reputable performers like Murphy Afolabi, Kemi Afolabi, and Fatai Oodua.
4. Alani Fere Bi Ekun (mid-2000s)
Dele Odule and Sunday ‘Aluwe’ Omobolanle star in this ‘Robin Hood’ meets ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ flick. When Alani Akinwande, a small-town mechanic is wrongfully sent to prison, he escapes jail and thereafter acquires supernatural powers which splits him into two persons. During the day he is Alani Alaanu (Omobolanle), a kind and revered philanthropist who helps the poor and gives to charity. While at night, he becomes Alani Ekun (Odule), a dreaded outlaw & bandit, who robs the rich and murders law enforcement agents.
Nollywood luminaries like Peju Ogunmola, late Ishola Durojaye, late Babatunde “Baba Suwe” Omidina, Kayode Olaiya, Bimbo Oshin, and Yomi Fash-Lanso all featured in this movie which was directed by Waheed Ijaduade.
‘Alani Fere Bi Ekun’s soundtrack was brilliantly produced by Tope Alabi, a renowned Nigerian gospel artist. It was one of the last few movies she produced its musical score before becoming a full-time gospel artist.
5. Owo Blow 1-3 (1996)
Arguably the first modern movie of this genre, Owo Blow stars Taiwo ‘Ogogo’ Hassan as Wole, a young man whose family falls apart due to his father’s unjust arrest. His sister tries to support their family through prostitution but she is impregnated and dies during childbirth. He is then unable to complete his education and is forced into a life on the streets. His persistent hardship plunges him into a life of crime. Nonetheless, he determines to be a ‘gentleman’ criminal who won’t spill blood and will invest his spoils in people rather than material things.
As directed by Tade Ogidan, the movie remains a masterpiece, not only in the crime genre but even as an indigenous Nollywood outing. In addition to casting Taiwo ‘Ogogo’ Hassan, undisputed Nollywood Icons like Yinka Quadri, Lanre Hassan, Adebayo Salami, Binta Ayo Mogaji, and Sam Loco Efe also feature in the movie.
Interestingly, “Owo Blow” is Femi Adebayo’s acting debut (which might have had a direct influence on ‘King of Thieves produced 26 years later). The movie is also the acting debut of Bimbo Akintola and the late Rachael Oniga. Both women would go on to achieve reputable fame in the industry.
Other memorable entries that couldn’t make the list include Makanje (2001) directed by Rasaq Olayiwola, starring Taofeek Adewale Dugboluja, Murphy Afolabi, Dada Olasukumi, and Toyosi Adesanya; The Return Of Kesari (2019) starring Ibrahim Yekini and Femi Adebayo; and President Kuti (2021) produced by Ibrahim Yekini, co-directed by both Tope Adebayo and Ibrahim Yekini, starring Odunlade Adekola, Fathia Balogun, Jide Kosoko, among others.
If there’s a worthy entrant you think I’ve left out, kindly let us know in the comments.
– Adebayo Adegbite