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FICTION

NIGERIAN & ENTERTAINING THE 21ST CENTURY 
A REVIEW OF UCHE UDEAGBALA'S LEGENDARY SUCCESSES IN THE MODERN WORLD OF SHOWBIZ

by
Ismaila Ikani Sule

It certainly is no easy feat conquering the bombastic road to fortune and fame. A wise man... or was it that lady who used to chase me around her garden with a broom... once said "son, if you want to pluck my mangoes, you must be very stupid because I didn't spend ten years nurturing my plants just so some young rascal can jump over my fence and start to chopulate (gobble) them all for free". My point is... it certainly is no easy feat conquering the bombastic road to fortune and fame.
Uche Udeagbala - from Nigeria to Benin Republic, Egypt to Iraq, Jamaica to Norway, China to Japan, Indonesia to India and Pakistan, from Russia, Germany, France and the UK all the way to the USA - this has become household name, a source of popular entertainment for families (particularly those with hardly no reason at all to be depressed). Without doubt the young superstar who hails from the West African country of Nigeria has achieved, in such little time, what most his peers could only dream about - he is a movie star of international acclaim, Eminem can't pronounce his last name and he intends to have only one lady in his life. I know, you guys can't believe it.

Okay, we've all heard that famous question of the 1990's "Who's Uche?" and I'm not going to attempt to answer that question ('cos I can't find the piece of paper I scribbled the answer on). No, it's time to take a look at some of the movies (or whatever they are) and Uche's works responsible for all the noise about him. Click on the poster images for larger versions.

Synopses POSTERS

DynamUche

1979, somewhere on the banks of the River Thames, Britain, the skies suddenly darken. Sinister clouds gather together as a terrible rumble breaks out. A bright flash. Something shoots out of the sky and into the waters of the Thames with a magnificent explosion. Silence. The skies clear. Two days later, Jameson, a homeless character who has lost the same job thrice decides it's time to quit life itself and flings himself into the Thames with a boulder tied to his tummy. As he struggles for breath underwater he sees a baby's funny face smiling at him and yaaargh! the frightened man scrambles out of the water dragging the boulder behind him at top speed. Summoning enough courage, he returns to fish out the child. The baby's still alive and playing with a goldfish. Jameson takes the child to a farmyard where he spends his nights and raises the child as his own. He soon discovers the boy is really an alien from outer space with some very unusual superpowers. He names his adopted son Jameson II also to be known as the super-hero DynamUche! 

Remarks - This was the film that launched Uche's onscreen career. Shot entirely in London, the film grossed some $56 million within the first three days of its release in the UK and some $30 million afterwards in the USA. DynamUche made it mandatory of every parent back then to provide their kids with a pair of socks, pants and a towel to tie around the neck.



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The Campus Marshall
Kanna Bombemall (Uche) finds life at Ros International University to be far different from what he ever expected. Constant closures as a result of staff strike actions and campus violence leads a lot of young people dropping out of school and roaming the streets of Abuja City as unemployed thugs and very bad football players. Violent student groups run various sections of the campus each trying to dominate the other in campus politics and uninteresting beauty pageants. Kanna is the son of a village warrior and he does his best to stay away from all the harmful groups around him. But trouble seems to take a liking to him and pretty soon, when a girl selling roast groundnuts runs off with his wallet, Kanna decides its time to impose some law and order. If the campus authorities won't do it and get his wallet back, then Kanna will! It's action and some pretty good tutorials on preparing tasty roast groundnuts all the way!

Remarks - Almost a decade after his debut as DynamUche, Uche returns to the screen in this action-packed film from Nigeria. Having to choose between a temporary job as a roadside mechanic and starring in a local Nigerian film (all due to the closure of the university where he was studying Medicine as lecturers went on strike) Uche decides to act again. While the film was a local blockbuster, it didn't fare so well outside Nigeria where many audiences could keep up with all the local slang words and expressions despite the subtitles. Some critics even called it a waste of Uche's talents, but it was still a beautifully made film we all enjoyed over here. It gave hope to those poor students having to take up roadside jobs while waiting for university lecturers to call off their strike action.



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Lemme Marry Ya Daughter
A brilliant collection of stage performances and musical videos by Huushe Man (Uche) alongside a documentary on the star's everyday life and his success story. Three hours of every young lady's heart-throb and every guy's babanla role model.

Remarks - Uche once again baffled critics with his immense talents for entertainment. At a period when many American musicians were making movies towards the movie industry, Uche made his own move into the music industry. Growing dreadlocks and a new goatee beard he transformed himself from quiet old Uche Udeagbala to the handsome, dashing, and totally irresistible Huushe Man. Huushe Man would grow into an international phenomenon, selling over 45 million albums in forty-two different countries around the globe in a period of six months, raking in $320 million in sales to his record company. Huushe Man's style was a fusion of afrobeat, reggae, and rap and something called 'Huushe-Talk'. He was nominated for five Grammy awards amongst others, out of which he won three but had to collect them secretly after the 2000 Awards ceremony because of fears for the lives of the young girls and women in attendance or watching from home on TV. This was as a result of a nasty incident some months earlier in Holland where thirteen teenaged girls collapsed at the sight of Huushe Man at one of his concerts (one of them remaining in a coma for about three days). Luckily, their mothers wouldn't let their fathers press charges. He still made it up to them by settling their medical bills. 



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16 Desperate Desperadoes
16 friends decide it's time to do something better with their lives other than working for other people or struggling to actually work for other people. They become a band of reckless outlaws whose only pleasure is embarrassing the police on the city's streets (ripping officers' trousers, spitting chewing gum on police cars and tricking dishonest law men with Monopoly money as bribes). Soon they become the most wanted criminals in the state and are forced to seek refuge among the rocky hills. After nine months living on the hills, the group's leader Terror Tamah (Uche) introduces the use extreme sports as a means of maintaining the morale of his boys. Some of them are already writing letters to their mums telling them how much they miss their cooking. Things don't go too well though and some serious accidents begin to take place almost daily, forcing the group to seek outside training in extreme sports events like rocky-hill-biking, tree diving and upside down human catapulting. But with the law hot on their heels!...

Remarks - This is definitely Uche's best performance ever. This film made over $4 billion in theatres all around the world merely a month after its release. Shot at different locations in Nigeria, Jamaica, Singapore and Malaysia, it was an excellent effort by both the actors and the director. Thirteen months of stunt training was involved (Uche, of course, insisting on doing most of his own stunts). The film even boasts of 45 seconds of cameo appearance of Jackie Chan being carried away on a stretcher. 16 Desperate Desperadoes is a most-have film for movie-buffs and collectors everywhere. 



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The Doctor Who Went "Oops!"
Mayhem breaks out in the little village community of Wahala when the new doctor at the Community Hospital misplaces a schizophrenic couple's new baby and has to convince them that a fluffy teddy bear is actually their child while he tries to find the real baby. More trouble breaks out when a young female student returns home with the baby in her school bag thinking she had made a clean getaway with some tubers of yam from a nasty old man's farm. Her parents insist on the identity of the child's father even though she swears it's not her baby. To make matters worse, the couple with the teddy bear are related to the notorious Bala Wayyo a notorious fighter leading a group of rebels fighting for their own independent fishing pond. He's just heard news of the new baby and he's coming to visit! The doctor must move fast and find that baby! 

Remarks - This is an ingenious, outrageous slapstick comedy written and directed by yours truly (thank you, thank you) I. I. Sule in his first debut as a writer and director. Uche plays two parts in this film - he is the schizophrenic father and the nervous, panic-stricken doctor.



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The Mattress Re-Stuffed
Uchenna Maze Okocha (Uche) is a Kaduna-based computer programmer who finally decides to marry and settle down. He and his new bride move into their new home on the outskirts of town where they hope to start a happy new family. That is until Uchenna purchases a king-sized bed which appears to have some sinister qualities of its own. No sooner does he dive on to it to try it out at home than wires and cables shoot out from all over the mattress holding him down securely while others probe around and fasten themselves to his skull. No-one hears him scream and he is drawn through an experience of unbearable pain and torture before finding himself transported to a cybernetic world of vitual reality. He doesn't figure this out, believing he is still in the real world, until he comes across two guys with some extraordinary powers who carry out impossible feats and explain things to him. An Egyptian inventor had created what he believed would give Internet users the ultimate web-surfing environment based on virtual reality technology. His invention had unfortunately also been witnessed by unscrupulous mobsters who believed they could use it for cyber-crime and when they try to seize it from him, he is forced to hide three working versions of his invention in three mattresses in his brother's furniture store. The mobsters get to him and murder him but can't find his gadgets. Oblivious to events which had taken place in his furniture store, the brother goes on to sell these mattresses along with others which ultimately find their way into the Kaduna Central Market. Two of the mattresses had already been purchased months earlier by two perfect strangers (Paul and Abdul), but now Uchenna had just acquired the third. He has to learn to adapt to this new environment fast because he may never leave. In the real world, bereaved families watch helplessly as electronics experts are unable to free these three young men from the clutches of the gadgets holding them in a coma-like state. That is until, some foreigners arrive claiming to posses the technology needed to save the young men's lives. First, they have to attach themselves to the mattresses as well and get into the world where Uchenna and his new friends roam tirelessly searching for some means of escape. The strangers' presence becomes apparent and their real motives are even scarier - they are agents for the mobsters and they need to find how things work in this new world - how humans can get to wield such amazing power. To do that, however, its three most experienced human inhabitants must sacrifice their minds, lives and of course... breakfasts! It's the ultimate cyber battle for survival!

Remarks - Costing a stated sum of N2.2 billion (about $18 million) to produce, this has to be Nigeria's most expensive film ever made. The computer graphics are superb, just like the stunt work and the film has already grossed a cool $450 million in its first week of simultaneous release in Nigeria and Egypt. There's no stopping Uche?

 



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COPYRIGHT UCHE UDEAGBALA 2003 + I. I. SULE '24/2K+3.