Who Owns Da City – Below Expectation


Watching this movie the other night made me remember GBC-TV’s TV THEATRE back in the 90s. The plot, props, locations, costume, and the lame attempt at Kung-Fu so much resembled the slightly advanced version of the famous TV Theatre we used to so much enjoy on GBC-TV every Thursday evening.


It’s your typical story of the drug business; the betrayals, the police chase, guns and women, corrupt police officers, selfish and greedy politicians, etc. It’s a story about three drug barons trying so hard to evade the police whilst attempting to eliminate each other. The barons are played by Charles Bruce Tagoe as Nana Kojo, Kofi Adjorlolo as Jack Kente and Omar the First as Tony Megabush. Ecow Smith-Asante, good old David Dontoh, Nadia Buari  are part of the police force. Then there is Martha Ankomah as the daughter of Nana Kojo. Then there is veteran George Williams as a Minister of Interior.

Internal Decor

From all the experiences that HM Films has garnered over the past several years, I must say I was quite disappointed with the locations and settings used for the movie. For instance, in an attempt to portray the usual lavishness seen or perhaps I should say thought to be seen in the homes of rich drug barons, they ended up rather normal homes whiles over-decorating or rather making it up. This was done without any regard to the tenets of internal decorations. There were lots of contrasting colours of artifacts clumsily clustered in little spaces. It was particularly irritating in Nana Kojo’s house.


There was an attempt at creating a Police Station. It was woefully done. Again, little space being used with too many props. Interestingly, they could not even create an interrogation room for Tony Megabush. And what were the reflector vests hung over the chairs meant for? It was obvious they had just been dumped there as props.


Almost each scene involving Nana Kojo and Jack Kente seemed to be crowded. The director, Ifeanyi Chukwu, did not do a good job at utilizing space and actors. In an attempt at creating scenes to fulfill the impression that drug barons are constantly surrounded by women and bodyguards, they were simply unleashed on set; a set which in itself was small. Perhaps a better location and even still the use of multiple locations might have helped.


Omar 1st is known to like flashy dressing, even in real life. I believe he was more than thrilled to be costumed in the long trench coats, hats, scarfs and heavy suits; forget the fact that the setting was in Ghana…a very warm country. It is yet an example of the blind way Ghanaian movie makers copy from Hollywood.  The drug baron in the US or Russia will wear lots of warm clothes, even fur coats. I am not sure if there are any known drug barons here and how they dress but it simply did not cut with me. Nana Kojo also was clothed in all manner of fancy clothes. For a while one will think these are barons based in Jamaica, Siberia, New York or some other place far away. Then there is the issue of wearing hard hats in the ‘factory’ where Nana Kojo bags his drugs. Point is, it is an unnecessary prop since the hard hat was not needed there. And did Kofi Adjorlolo have to put a star-shaped nose ring? Totally out of place, methinks.


I think HM Films over-did it here. One memorable effect was when two pushers sensationally jumped and leaped over an on-rushing Mercedes Benz. I mean, it was almost clownish if you ask me. A friend remarked that some of the effects looked ‘cartoonish’. I agree.

Dangling ear pieces and Army Chopper

HM Films tries to make us all see that these drug barons were technologically savvy. But which techno savvy person uses an ear piece with a cord when there is Bluetooth technology for example? And worse, almost everyone of Jack Kente and Nana Kojo and all their men had dangling ear pieces. I mean how!!

One thing worth commending HM for was their success at getting the Air Force  to release one of their few choppers for the movie. I would not be wrong if I said ideally the chopper should not have been in the famous camouflage of the army, would I? So now they could not hide the military colours but could they not have avoided letting us see the Army uniform of the pilot?


The main cast performed well. David Dontoh, Fred Amugi and Ekow Smith-Asante had tremendous experience on stage before moving to the silver screen and they are no doubt very good actors. Same goes for the aging George Williams.

Martha Ankomah, I have said before, seems to be in too much of a rush to become a star. She was acting as a daughter of a baron who had lived in the States since she was ten. She seems to forget herself a few times and ended up switching between an American accent and a Ghanaian one. If she slowed down a bit and relaxed a bit more, she may be able to become a fine actress.


Considering it was Charles Tagoe’s first movie, I think he did ok. He seemed to slow down quite a lot of times just so he does not miss his lines, otherwise he was ok. Charles should however learn how to kiss. Gosh he was awful. It was as though he had some tough meat he was trying to masticate in a hurry.


Amanorbea Dodoo is a natural actress. She does not have to do much to bring out her character. However she could have done better when her daughter was shot in her presence. The average woman will be distraught to see her child nearly kill before her very own eyes. But she made it look it was an everyday affair to see one’s daughter hurt and nearly killed before them.


Ecow is a fine actor and he did well. However what was that spin he always did with his sunglasses? He did it once too many and it became slightly boring watching him pull off his trick.


Remember “Max” from “Things We Do For Love”? well, he was a killer in Who Runs Da City. Aside the black trench coat he was made to wear just so he looks like the killer Ghanaian producers have come to create, he was alright. By the way, Omar 1st was pretty cool. He seems to be settling in pretty well. Truth be told. But how come his cigar was never lighted?


It’s fair to say that acting was generally ok. The movie itself though could have been much better. You do not get such good actors and produce a movie which I may want to categorise as an average movie; an OK attempt.


It takes more than just a good actor to make a good movie.

By Kwame Gyan


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