Entertaining, thrilling and hugely influential, Lancelot Imasuen’s 2001 movie “Issakaba” is arguably the greatest Nollywood action movie ever.
One of the main reasons why the movie is still fondly remembered is because it’s more than a movie. It was a movement. It told our story.
A generally gripping and entertaining movie, its story, themes and style is a true reflection of the most popular justice system in Nigeria – Jungle justice.
In 2012, four young men, Ugonna Obuzor, Toku Lloyd, Chiadika Biringa, and Tekena Elkanah, all students of the University of Port Harcourt, were lynched after they were falsely accused of theft in Aluu.
The ALUU 4 is just one of the many cases of Jungle Justice in Nigeria.
In “Issakaba,” a group of men with diabolical powers made it their responsibility to eradicate corruption and purge their land of evil men.
The four-part movie came at a time when vigilantes served as the judiciary system’s substitute, especially in the eastern part of Nigeria.
The movie was inspired by the popular vigilante group Bakassi Boys, who made their mark by combating crimes in cities like Onitsha and Aba, bymutilating and burning the bodies of their victims.
Despite the brutality of these vigilantes, their methods were welcomed by residents of these cities, who had lived with violent robbery for so long.
The cast of “Issakaba” was led by Sam Dede, whose screen presence, elegance and ferocity as the protagonist remains unparalleled in the action genre world.
The movie also starred Remmy Ohajianya, Mike Ogundu, Emeka Nwafor, Tom Njemanze, Uche Odoputa, Emeka Ani, Chiwetalu Agu, Pete Eneh, Amaechi Munagor, John Okafor among others.
Incredibly reminiscent, the film’s score and slang ‘Odeshi ‘ are yet to be forgotten by viewers who saw the movie as far back as 2001, when it made its debut.
Of course, there had been classic Nollywood action movies like “Amadas” and “Hostages” before 2001, but the true crime stories genre kicked off with Lancelot Imasuen’s “Issakaba.”
Following “Issakaba” came the release of true crime movies like “Derico” and “Anini” – all based on the lives and times of Nigeria’s notorious armed-robbers, Lawrence Anini and Derico Nwamama, who terrorized and killed many innocent Nigerians.
It may be too much to ask for a remake lest our childhood is destroyed, so, we would just hold on to everything we remember about the greatest on-screen vigilantes.