Wakaliwood, a film production company based in Uganda, has a small but fervent cult following that rivals the passion behind the fanbase of Tommy Wiseau and The Room. One of their most famous productions, Who Killed Captain Alex?, is recognised as Uganda’s first ever action film and has a whopping 5.1 million views on YouTube at the time of writing. We Are One picked up the company’s newest venture, Crazy World, and unleashed it onto its unsuspecting film festival audience. What followed was a fever dream of a film-going experience, and one I’ve enjoyed trying and failing to recount to my friends in the days since.
Crime lords rule the streets of Uganda, selling weapons and kidnapping children in a bid to maintain order and control over their districts. Here, Mr Big and his Tiger Base Mafia kidnapped the Waka Starz, a band of children renowned for their kung-fu fighting ability. These abilities are used in their efforts to escape and take down the Ugandan mob once and for all, with a little help from friends like Bruce U, Uganda’s best kung-fu cop.
I have little idea of where to even begin writing about Crazy World. It’s the kind of film that needs to be seen to be believed, because any attempted description will fail to capture the magic that Wakaliwood conjured during the creative process. The brisk 65-minute runtime serves the film hugely, as the rapid intensity of the storytelling and action scenes would have been impossible to maintain over a regular runtime.
It was a mind-bending experience trying to parse when exactly Crazy World began. It wasn’t my first We Are One screening, and each of the previous entries had introductions by directors. Crazy World had an introduction, explaining how the film came to be a part of the festival, and a very entertaining anti-piracy advert in which people are arrested and share their crimes of just wanting to watch Fast & Furious. Eventually, once I realised that what I had been watching actually was the film, I was engrossed.
The opening scenes are an extended chase and shoot-out sequence that is so deliberately ridiculous it was impossible not to enjoy. The Windows Movie Maker blood splatters, the .gif explosions, and the incessant sound of gunfire made this opening an assault on the senses in all the right ways. When the gunfire stops after a genuinely surprising death, I was surprised at the gasp it provoked, before the flood of Fs in the live chat brought me to tears of laughter.
Watching a film for the first time on YouTube with the live chat enabled is one of the most unique film experiences of my entire life. It was Film Twitter and meme culture rolled into one, with ironic critique of the film one second, and rapid quote recollection the next (Crazy World has one of the most quotable screenplays I’ve seen in a long time). At one point, the We Are One channel moderator even joined in supporting the film’s anti-piracy message. If you were part of the 1,600 viewers in the chatroom that fateful night, I salute you for only adding to the Crazy World experience.
VJ Emmie, reprising his role as narrator from Who Killed Captain Alex? and Bad Black, is the star of the show. In my notes – 80% of which are written in an all-caps incredulity, regularly posing the question what am I watching? – I wrote several of his one-liners verbatim as many were genuinely hilarious. Emmie’s style is akin to that of a shock jock DJ, the type who would cut in mid-song and make puns and jokes about whatever has just been played, a style that suits Crazy World perfectly. It’s very likely that Emmie was shown the finished edit of the film, given a microphone and told to narrate over the events in real-time, such is the organic hilarity of his commentary.
The efficacy of the action scenes was one of the film’s most pleasantly surprising aspects. Our kung-fu specialist youngsters, the Waka Starz, perform some genuinely impressive fight choreography, using moves that are at once impressive kung-fu skill and realistically successful strategies for children to take down adults with regular 2-on-1 fight scenes. What the film lacks in storytelling it makes up for with dedication to its action.
Further, the film has an astonishing level of meta humour and film references packed into its lightning fast runtime. From an electric guitar cover of the Indiana Jones theme, to calling a woman’s breasts National Treasures, and describing the “Van Dammage” of a high kick that takes a mobster down, Crazy World is built on a firm foundation of film knowledge and a love of cinema.
This is sure to go down as one of my most unforgettable film screenings of my entire life. The addition of the live chat feature which created a midnight screening of The Room at the Prince Charles Cinema type atmosphere only added to the experience, but the film surprised me with its humour and its effective action sequences. I’m not sure whether Crazy World is more of a meme than it is a film, but it’s one that’s going to live long in the memory.
Directed by: Nabwana I.G.G.
Written by: Nabwana I.G.G., Alan Hofmanis
Cast: Isaac Newton Kizito, Kirabo Beatrice, Nattembo Racheal Monica