Offer of empty promise pervades behind the ring

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By Adedayo Odulaja, Reporter, Lagos

Behind The Ring would have been thought to be a film based on the intrigues of choosing the most desirable of the options in front of a young man or lady as it happens most of the time. Or better still, based on an account of a certain ring with mysterious and supernatural powers which are able to do a lot for its carrier, but it is not a crime if the thought of a producer or director does not go with yours as they are at liberty to decide what catches their fancy, but follow the trail and see if it delivers a meaningful punch.

James is the husband of Vivian (Monalisa Chinda) and the next of kin of his dead father who is said to be an Igwe. So, James is literally in charge of his late father's estate as the first son while John, his younger brother, of whom nothing much is said or depicted all through the story, storms the house of James one morning to ask for the documents and papers of assets of their late father. John refuses to be placated, and nothing, even his brother's wife stops him from threatening fire and brimstone on his brother except he releases the documents and lets him have his share of the inheritance. This rift does not end until Edwin, James' bosom friend, comes into the picture to try and settle the skirmish and calm the frayed nerves.

After this minor quarrel, things seem to come back to normal, but not without John still firing arrows of threats in the path of James and members of his family as usual, though a nasty turn around to the scores occurs when James is shot and killed right in his room by some assassins. The killers, who leave with nothing after they kill James, are able to get into the house when they take the gateman hostage and trick the hapless man into swaying James to open the door for him late in the night. The hands and tongues of suspicions are not surprisingly pointed at John, who has threatened so much to deal with James and no matter what he says, no one would believe him on account of his past actions and open demonstrations in his brother's house.

Two years after James is killed, the same fate befalls John right in front of an eatery where he has gone to purchase some edible stuff. With the torch of suspicion never directed at him, Edwin, James's friend and Vivian later get together in a love affair they soon become legally married few years after James' death.

The reason of Edwin's surreptitious moves and scheming is soon revealed to be the life insurance policy of James signs up to while alive and which amounts to a five year life insurance plan worth around N5 million a year. Edwin becomes privy to this one day when he goes to James' office and the file is passed to James, on asking, his unsuspecting friend tells him all about it. This is the money Edwin has his eyes on and the reason for which he kills James and John and marries Vivian, James' wife. Meanwhile, Vivian is pregnant with Edwin's baby and while Edwin tells his wife and her mother, who has come to stay with them for sometime on a study leave abroad for six months, Edwin unleashes the same attack of assassins on Victor, the six-year old son that James leaves behind to ensure he is not the recipient of the insurance policy later in life even after he has convinced Vivian to transfer the money into his account for investment purposes which he says is better than holding it up in a fixed deposit account. Victor is chased around and in a dash for dear life, makes an effort to evade his attackers, but he is eventually shot by a lake done on purpose so that Edwin would not be fingered as he is out of the country at the time.

Twenty five years later, Vivian has a daughter known as Cynthia (Jackie Appiah) whom she is pregnant with at about the time Victor, the son from her first marriage to her late husband is reported killed.

Unknown to the woman and as later revealed as the movie progresses, Victor is not dead. In fact, the shot meant for him somehow misses target and he is recruited, along side three others into a vicious and wicked deadly gang led by a certain Bazoka where killing for money is the order of the day. He is then known as Colombo after he is grown up, a role played by Desmond Elliot, but the only meaningful fact deducible from the film is that Cynthia and Colombo are siblings, at least by the same mother and their union, although unknown to them, is an abomination. The usual circle of realisation which leads to recovery begins for the young man now known as Colombo and the biting traces of nemesis are established as new faces are introduced and the tale disappointingly is watered down to an account that begins well, though loses its steam of creativity and direction.

Not uncharacteristic of Nollywood films however, the story begins to limp right after the major point of conflict is established and the film revolves, from then on around characters. As much as these kinds of films are something we are not comfortable with, it must be noted that we seem to have accepted the trend that a film is a film once it starts to roll as a compact disc slotted into the video player. Hence, it has become a very common feature in our screen productions.

At the hand of the day, it is either impossible to grab the kernel of thought the film tries to project or completely difficult to establish a near poignant storyline.

While the input of many directors, producers and actors regarded as newcomers in many stories like Behind The Ring is pardonable, what do we say about those hugely popular paraded in some pathetic flicks? It would probably take a lot of scientific study of the dynamics of filmmaking to understand whatever lopsided rationale behind the excessive use of the slow motion technique, which ordinarily should be for as short as possible. But in a situation where Victor, the six year old son of James and Vivian is being chased by a couple of hired killers and the young boy outruns them, which typically is questionable; the strength of the believability of such a scene, no matter how infinitesimal, becomes totally obscure when the whole scene is rendered relying on slow motion. Another annoying part is the spending a total of about eight regular minutes on a scene where nothing else is depicted apart from a character driving on in his or her car until such a person probably gets to his or her destination. Clearly a precious waste of tape, but not so in Nollywood where it is an influential part of the norms of filmmaking. How angry can one then become when you discover that the same flick where you spend about ten minutes or thereabout watching no action on the streets or a driver in inconsequential traffic is divided into a total of four CDs with representing a part of the story delineated not on the basis of the richness of the tale or inadequacy of space, but purely on financial terms.

From the stable of Eastwind Pictures, the flick is produced by Chikere Guide and directed by Moses Ebere. It features some of Nollywood's best who might not be disappointed by their performance, but by the overall outcome of their efforts at the end of the day. Some of the notable faces in the Behind The Ring are Jackie Appiah, Desmond Elliot, Monalisa Chinda and others.