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'Who Killed Captain Alex: Uganda's First Action Movie' And The Story Of Wakaliwood

Every so often a film comes along that changes the way you look at cinema and shocks the very foundations of the film industry. 'Who Killed Captain Alex' is just one of those films.

Produced by Wakaliwood studios it was filmed in Wakaliga, a slum in Uganda's capital of Kampala by Its founder and director Nabwana I.G.G., Uganda's Quentin Tarantino.

Nabwana's formative years were spent amidst the tumultuous era of Idi Amin's rule in the 1970s Uganda. While the nation grappled with violence and ethnic strife, the land owned by Nabwana's grandfather provided a haven of relative tranquility. His passion for filmmaking ignited from cherished memories of watching reruns of shows like Hawaii Five-O and Logan's Run, coupled with a deep-seated admiration for Hollywood action flicks and martial arts masterpieces from his youth.

Despite never setting foot in a cinema, Nabwana eagerly absorbed accounts of newly released films described by his brothers and friends. It wasn't until 2005, following a stint in a computer course on video editing and a study of filmmaking tutorials, that Nabwana established Ramon Film Productions (later becoming Wakaliwood), named after his grandmothers Rachael and Monica.

The studio makes props and jibs out of DIY parts, which commentators have compared to the early days of Hollywood. Among the studio's props is a full sized helicopter frame that has become a staple in all Wakaliwood films. Nabwana shoots and edits his films using old computers that he assembles. Squibs and theatrical blood, used to simulate bloody gunshots, are made from condoms filled with red food colouring and tied to fishing lines before being taped to the actors' chests.

Nabwana had previously used cow blood, but was forced to discontinue its use after one of his actors developed brucellosis.

Upon a film's completion, the actors sell DVD copies door-to-door in a one-week time window to ensure they make money before the film is bootlegged

Who Killed Captain Alex?

In 2010 Wakaliwood released 'Who Killed Captain Alex' which quickly gained viral notoriety for being a no-budget action film, produced on a reported budget of under $200 (the producer says the budget was actually $85).

The original version of the film was lost due to power outages and "strained conditions" according to Nabwana, while the surviving version of Who Killed Captain Alex? released online includes commentary from the first English-speaking "Video Joker" that includes running gags about the characters (see above).

I'm going to give an outline of the plot now, so if you want to watch it and don't want spoilers, stop reading here!

Captain Alex, one of the most decorated officers in the Uganda People's Defence Force, is sent out to capture the crime boss Richard and his Tiger Mafia, a criminal organisation that controls the drug trade of the city of Kampala. Alex sets up camp in the village of Wakaliga. After doing so, his soldiers go to a bar where a fight ensues between them and the villagers. Alex breaks it up and takes them out of the bar. Alex and his soldiers locate the Tiger Mafia during a drug deal and infiltrate it. In the following fight, Richard's brother is captured.

Richard berates his men, shoots his wife Ritah in his fit of rage, and then swears revenge against Alex. He orders a spy to seduce Alex in his tent and sends the mafia to capture him later that night. However, Alex is killed by an unknown source, leaving the mafia and his soldiers in disarray. Captain Alex's brother, a Ugandan shaolin monk named Bruce U arrives at Kampala the next morning in search of the murderer and finds a Tiger Mafia card in Alex's tent.

Elsewhere, the mafia tells Richard that Alex is dead; Richard becomes irate because he wanted Alex brought to him. Bruce goes to a shaolin temple where he fights the other martial artist until the master appears. Bruce asks the master for help on his quest for vengeance, but the latter declines. Bruce goes to the forest to train for his quest on his own. After sleeping in a tree, he discovers Ritah, who has amnesia after being shot by her husband. Bruce, unaware that she was part of the Tiger Mafia, comes to her aid. After training in a nearby lake, he discovers that Ritah was a member of the mafia due to a tattoo with the mafia's initials.

Ritah regains her memory and agrees to take Bruce to the Tiger Mafia base. The UPDF hires a new military leader who formulates a plan to attack the mafia's base. However, his plan is overheard by Richard through the phone of a turncoat police officer. Richard gathers the mafia at the base to prepare and sends one of his men to steal an attack helicopter to bomb Kampala to serve as a distraction for the government. Bruce invades the mafia's base, but is captured and brought to Richard, who orders three of his men to fight him with combat skills. Bruce holds his own for some time but is eventually overwhelmed.

The military bombs the base with a helicopter, forcing the mafia into a forest where they fight the UPDF. After the chaotic fighting, the entire mafia is dead and only Richard remains. He strips the gun off one of his deceased men, kills a number of soldiers, and takes down the military helicopter but is eventually shot and captured. The Ugandan government places Kampala under martial law, and the film abruptly ends as the Video Joker thanks the audience for watching.

More recent Wakaliwood productions

In March 2015, Wakaliwood initiated a Kickstarter campaign with a goal of raising US$160 for their movie Tebaatusasula: Ebola. Remarkably, the studio garnered over US$13,000 from 374 supporters by April 1st.

Tebaatusasula: Ebola acts as both a direct sequel to Who Killed Captain Alex? and a reinterpretation of the 2010 film Tebaatusasula, which was unfortunately lost due to a significant power surge damaging the hard drive containing the film. Later that year, in September, the Wakaliwood team participated in the Nyege Nyege Festival in Jinja, where they spent two days filming Attack on Nyege Nyege, getting festival attendees as extras.



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