“A Tribe Called Judah” Reviews: Balancing Humor, Dysfunction, and Moral Dilemma

A Tribe Called Judah” is a 2023 Nigerian film produced by Funke Akindele and directed by Funke Akindele and Adeoluwa Owu. The movie tells the story of a single mother, Jedidah Judah (played by Funke Akindele), who has five sons from five different fathers from five different tribes. The first two sons are responsible and try their best to work and support their mother. Meanwhile, the last three are less helpful: Pere (played by Timini Egbuson) is a chronic pickpocket, Shina (played by Tobi Makinde) is a hoodlum and tout in the community; and the last, Ejiro (played by Olumide Oworu), is naughty and only cares about his girlfriend, Testimony (played by Genoveva Umeh). Despite their bad behavior, Jedidah continues to support them and get them out of trouble. Things take a turn for the worse when Jedidah develops a chronic kidney disease, needing ₦18 million to fund her operation and ₦400,000 weekly for her dialysis. The first son, Emeka, loses his job, and the five sons see no other option than to rob Emeka’s ex-boss, who is rumored to be a money launderer, to get the money to save their mother’s life. However, their plans take a dramatic turn when they encounter armed robbers at the scene. The movie was released to cinemas nationwide on December 15, 2023, and became the first Nollywood movie to hit 1 billion naira at the box office.

“A Tribe Called Judah” Seamlessly Blends Family Dynamics, Drama, and Comedy with a Touch of Nigerian Realism

A Tribe Called Judah takes its audience on a journey through the intricate dynamics of a Nigerian family, skillfully blending elements of drama, comedy, and a touch of suspense. The movie’s strength lies in its storytelling, efficiently introducing the central characters and themes in the first act. The narrative of a single mother and her problematic yet relatable children adds a touch of universal values, especially that of a mother’s love. As the storyline develops, the plot is propelled by the looming adversity of Jedidah’s illness, which catalyses the family’s unity. Despite occasional melodrama, the story’s ability to create and resolve conflicts, introducing more complex challenges, keeps the plot engaging.

The chemistry among the diverse ensemble cast contributes significantly to the film’s authenticity. The brotherhood and unity in diversity resonate with Nigerian society; perhaps the movie portrays Nigerian multiethnic structure and the need for unity. The film boasts impressive visuals that capture the essence of Nigerian landscapes and settings, depicting the condition of the life of the characters.

In this movie, there are moments of laughter, sadness and action. The movie offers a sense of justification for the character from the audience: the feeling that each character deserved what he or she got. Most intriguingly, you might think you could predict the following action in the movie, but ‘A Tribe Called Judiah’ would be a palatable surprise.

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Akindele’s Cinematic Evolution Climaxing into “A Tribe Called Judah”

One can confidently say that A Tribe Called Judah is Akindele’s most coherent production in recent history. The world-building and story follow a linear and enjoyable pathway as opposed to the convoluted story development in her earlier releases. The actors are also pleasurable to watch, and Ejiro and Testimony’s intentionality and dedication to each other are entertainingly delivered. Other actors bring commendable performances to the film and make for a thrilling cinematic experience.  

A Tribe Called Judah is a worthwhile film, and its tardy moments make it all the more rewarding. Akindele has a dominating presence in her films and can infiltrate these productions with her identity, with productions often centring around everyday household situations. And this recent production is an indication of the growth in the handling of her creative output. Hence, for families and individuals hoping to have a great time during the holiday period, Akindele’s film is deserving of the time and money. 


Storytelling and Pacing in “A Tribe Called Judah”

While the story structure is impressive, the pacing faults it in some parts. Perhaps the inciting incident, Jedidah’s illness, might have arrived earlier. The film does well to hint at Jedidah’s drinking problem early, setting up her kidney failure. But it could have moved faster. The story could have moved faster in some bits, but it is not such a significant flaw that it derails its quality irreparably. There is occasional melodrama, but you can brave through that as well. The story’s ability to create conflict, resolve it, and then create a more complicated conflict is a redeeming plot quality. Every time the characters find a solution, something more complex challenges them. It keeps the plot from becoming stale. And when we arrive at that final scene, we feel like we have truly gone through a journey with the characters, and none of them will be the same after the film’s events. That is the first, clearest evidence that a film is good: you do not leave it as you came to it. 

What Kept Me Up

“A Tribe Called Judah” Excels in Straightforward Storytelling and Stellar Performances

The major highlight of ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ is its straightforward storytelling. No confusing subplots, and the central characters and themes were efficiently introduced which gave the movie a compelling progression.

The performance of the cast is another strength of the movie. Despite it being start-studded, every cast performed exceptionally; no one acted like a third wheel. From Akindele embodying the character of a single mother to Jide Kene Achufusi as the responsible firstborn, Olumide Oworu as a naive last child, and Uzor Arukwe as a rich Igbo man, every cast member delivers exceptional performance in their roles.

The visuals, setting, and costumes of the film are also very impressive. Through these, it is evident that attention was paid to every detail, as the location and costume also depict the condition of the life of the characters.

The authenticity and relatability of the themes explored in the film are commendable. Every theme in the film — from family to love, brotherhood, and single motherhood — is something that one can resonate with.

The Cable

The Thoughtful Layers of “A Tribe Called Judah”

The writers of “A Tribe Called Judah” truly deserve praise for putting forward a cohesive script, parallelling Jedidiah and Nigeria as both in need of healing from her sons. Poised front and center are the question: Would we, like the Judah brothers, set aside our differences for the collective well-being of our homeland? Or would we keep pushing the “each tribe to their own” (or as one security guard says, “all mallam with him kettle”) agenda that has plagued us for decades?

Amidst the unfolding spectacle in the mall, aided by meticulous diligence on the part of the costume designers, these profound reflections on national unity and overcoming tribal divisions may go unnoticed. That was the intentional strategy – a “catch it if you can” approach.

The Nollywood Reporter

Loopholes in an Otherwise Excellent Film

Overall, the writing is excellent, cinematography, props location and set design is wonderful. However, there are a few loopholes I couldn’t help but notice.

The first is that, Arukwe, the owner of C&K furniture is shown to be a money launderer. We are not aware what he does to get these monies, and it could be from politicians, drug and human traffickers, or sales of illicit or fake products, but do they have to be in dollars? Especially considering dollars is not the average man currency in Nigeria. A large percentage of Nigerians may have never seen a dollar bill before and it is clearly because it is not legal tender here. We simply do not know how the movie comes and go, only that boy count money in a warehouse, and bring it to his showroom. Considering the fact that he is major character, I simply feel we deserve to know.

Also, despite the heavy fighting, and the amount of money that was thrown several stories down  by Emeka and Adamu, it appears every single dollar bill was accounted for, by either Team Emeka or Team Collete.

Finally, the scene where Arukwe’s team were splashed with acid was also unreal. How do gunmen allow themselves to be so easily surrounded? And then, how would acid that can melt a person’s skin melt so easily be carried in an open rubber basin? A gun fight where Arukwe’s team would be pegged, and eventually overpowered but with casualties from both sides would have been better for me, and I think for a few other people.

Inside Nollywood
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