King of Boys: The Return of the King, Kemi Adetiba’s crime drama, made a significant impact on Nollywood when it was first released in 2018. It was groundbreaking, at least by Nollywood standards, and scored huge numbers at the box office, so it came as no surprise when Adetiba announced that the movie would be getting a sequel, which would be converted into a limited series. It was one of the best Nigerian movies on Netflix in 2021.
In the sequel, Sola Sobowale, Toni Tones, Remilekun “Reminisce” Safaru, Tobechukwu “Ill Bliss” Ejiofor, Titi Kuti, Akin Lewis, Paul Sambo, and Osas Ighodaro reprise their roles from the original film. They are joined by Nse Ikpe-Etim, Efa Iwara, Richard Mofe-Damijo, Deyemi Okanlawon, Charles “Charly Boy” Oputa, Bimbo Manuel, Keppy Ekpenyong-Bassey, Lord Frank, and Taiwo Ajai-Lycett. The sequel is structured as a miniseries, consisting of seven episodes, each with a running time of one hour.
Set five years after the events of the first film, the sequel follows Alhaja Eniola Salami (Sobowale) as she returns to Nigeria after being cleared of all allegations against her. She expresses her desire to run for the office of Governor of Lagos State against the sitting Governor, Tunde Randle (Frank), without the backing of her former godfather, Aare (Lewis). Jumoke Randle (Ikpe-Etim), the First Lady, acts as a thorn in Eniola’s flesh, while her position as city kingpin is being threatened by Odudubariba (Charly Boy), who is laying claim to the throne, and Dapo Banjo (Iwara), a journalist who is working overtime to expose her earlier crimes and her links to the underworld.
As Eniola faces numerous old and new enemies, the sequel delves into the paradoxes of her character and the challenges she must overcome.
One of the notable strengths of the sequel is its deliberate effort to address the loss and grief that Eniola experienced in the original film. The series opens with a sensitive portrayal of Eniola’s grief, handling it with care and nuance. Even after five years, Eniola’s loss of her children in the original film is not brushed aside in the sequel. It impacts her actions, weighs on her mental health, and sets the stage for the internal conflict that Eniola grapples with throughout the series. Eniola, who once referred to herself as “Laburu, God’s worst punishment in a person,” is now torn between seeking redemption and seeking revenge against her enemies.
The sequel also pays attention to detail, capturing the nuances of Eniola’s journey as she searches for the graves of her children after being absent for years, cleaning the dust off the headstones, reading the epitaph, and noticing the dried leaves on the grave in the very first episode. However, there are some minor editing mistakes, such as a nurse typing on a computer that appears to be in recovery mode in the first episode, and Sade Bello (Ighodaro) hosting every KAV TV show without considering the nature of the show in subsequent episodes.
Another notable aspect of the sequel is its exploration of gendered stereotypes and expectations, particularly in the context of women in politics. The series challenges gendered stereotypes and expectations, but also portrays the harsh reality of how women are treated in politics. While Eniola and other women characters are shown to be capable of playing dirty politics, they are often held to different standards and face unique challenges
Similarly daring, but toeing a different path from the original, is the miniseries’ staunch refusal to propagate the warped idea of karma. In the first film, Eniola’s rise to power was depicted as a result of her ruthlessness and cunning, as if to suggest that her success was a product of her negative actions. However, in the sequel, Eniola is portrayed as a complex character who struggles with her past actions and seeks redemption, despite the challenges she faces.
The performances in King of Boys: The Return of the King are commendable, with Sola Sobowale once again delivering a powerful portrayal of Alhaja Eniola Salami. Her performance captures the internal conflict of a woman torn between her desire for redemption and her thirst for vengeance. Nse Ikpe-Etim is also outstanding as Jumoke Randle, the First Lady who is a constant thorn in Eniola’s side. The supporting cast, including Toni Tones, Reminisce, and Ill Bliss, deliver solid performances that add depth to the story.
The production value of the miniseries is top-notch, with well-executed action sequences and visually stunning scenes. The use of locations in Lagos, Nigeria, adds authenticity to the story and gives viewers a glimpse into the city’s vibrant culture and politics. The soundtrack is also noteworthy, with a mix of original music and popular Nigerian tracks that enhance the viewing experience.
Despite its many strengths, King of Boys: The Return of the King has its flaws. The series suffers from occasional editing mistakes and some inconsistencies in character motivations. The portrayal of women in politics, while challenging gender stereotypes in some aspects, falls short in other areas, particularly in its depiction of Chief, the Governor’s mother.
King of Boys: The Return of the King is a daring and ambitious sequel to the original film that pushes the boundaries of Nollywood. It tackles complex themes, showcases strong performances, and boasts high production values. While it has some flaws, it is a worthy continuation of Eniola’s story and leaves audiences eagerly anticipating what Kemi Adetiba has in store for Nollywood next.