Checkmate

Checkmate

African Ghanaian Movie Review

Checkmate ~ 2010
Story, Screenplay & Director – Shirley Frimpong Manso
Producer – Ken Attoh
Sparrow Productions

Starring:
Nadia Buari – Caroline
Ecow Blankson – Kiki Nelson
Senanu Gbedawo – Kwame
Naa Ashorkor Mnsah Doku – Naana Asante
Ewurama Asante – Elsie Kwansah
Kweku Boateng – Fifi
Khareema Agular – Jessica
Kweku Sintim-Misa – Mr Tamakloe

Themes:
Marriage
Peer Pressure
Kidnap
Blackmail
Drugs Trafficking

My Rating – 75%

(rating changed from 72%)

Synopsis:

Kwame played by Senanu Gbedawo is a senior customs official at the airport in Accra. One day at a gas station he meets Kiki Newton, played by Ecow Blankson after he loses his wallet and Kiki generously pays his bill. He is grateful to him and accepts his business card knowing nothing except that the man is a mysterious stranger. Kwame is not going to call him until his friends see the card and recognising the name convince him to. It turns out that Kiki is a well known property developer in the city and with his wide connections may well be able to help Kwame realise his political ambitions.

The pair become fast friends and after meeting at his home for drinks Kiki invites Kwame to one of his resorts for the weekend. It is supposed to be a “lads” weekend, but they meet Jessica (Khareema Agular) at the resort who is an old friend of Kiki’s and her friend Caroline (Nadia Buari). The ladies join them for dinner one evening and from there Kwame embarks on a steamy relationship with Caroline. When he gets home he believes the affair to be in the past, little does he know how the past will come to haunt him and threaten to have a disastrous impact on everything that he cherishes and holds dear.

*************SPOILERS*************

There is a good build up of mystery in the movie because as events unfold more and more questions come to mind. What is Jessica’s motive in getting her friend to blackmail Kwame? Why did she drug them? Is Kiki gay? Was I the only one that thought the movie was heading in that direction? He has no wife that lives overseas and that he never even calls and then his sister is trying to fight him over having Kwame. It was all very bizarre. The guy used to stand so close to him too.

The beginning of this movie is very slow, so slow that you may even just get bored and to watch something else. It felt like filler, and you don’t normally start putting in filler scenes at the start of a movie… bad move. If it hadn’t have been a Shirley Frimping Manso movie I may well have done so as there were so many non dialogue scenes. I get that she was trying to paint a background picture but she could have done it in less time and made it a little more interesting.

I was surprised that Kwame turned up home the night after his birthday without a story to tell his wife, his head hung and face full of guilt. Idiot – He even had to wait on his wife to provide a story for him I thought that Senanu Gbedawo played his role excellently. A scene that he was very good in was when he returned home from Jessica’s house. He conveyed emotion very well on his face, and what a fine face too. Ghana is coming out with hot guys on a regular basis and I for one am LOVING it! He played his part well from anguish to guilt, to turmoil the intensity that he displayed in that scene was terrific.
___________

Peer Pressure
Kwame succumbs to peer pressure from Kiki to get himself involved in a situation that he knew from the start he did not want to be involved in. Kiki was able to do this by comparing their situations as married men. One cannot compare themselves to another. You have to trust your own instincts and know yourself or that is how unscrupulous people will take advantage.

Caroline too allows herself to get involved with Kwame at her friend Jessica’s suggestion, knowing that he was married and knowing that she did not agree with the moral implications of such an affair. Jessica then persuades her to blackmail Kwame playing on her insecutities about her past relationships. She tells her, “You are going to let yet another man play with you and spit you out?” What kind of a friend is this giving such bad advice? Caroline is a mumu for even listening to anything that Jessica said.

The Script
The script was aiighhht but not strong as I expected it to be. There were too many times that I was picking up on conversations that just did not have a natural feel to them. In one scene Kwame and Kiki are having a conversation about chess. Kiki asks Kwame,

“Why don’t you ever play chess?”

“I never had the chance” Kwame replies.

“I don’t think so.”

Now read the exchange very well. How do you ask someone a question and then when they tell you the answer, an answer where there is no right or wrong, you tell them that their answer is incorrect? I was baffled.

Also at the end of the movie where Kwame returns home after spending his birthday with Caroline I thought they made a mess of those scenes having the wife keep asking Kwame questions and then answering them herself. It was annoying and unrealistic. That technique might have worked had it been comedy but not in a drama  like this one.

The script had its good moments too. Kiki had some one liners that made me laugh, like when he is persuading Kwame to come away with him and is tlakign about having fun with ladies, and sees Kwame’s hesitance, he tells him,

“Chale we are married not on death row.”

He also tells him,

“The best thing about being married is you can have your cake and eat it.”

The Twist
I loved the twist. I did not see it coming despite what could have been considered a hint at the beginning of the movie. When I figured out that Jessica was setting up all sorts of situation I thought that she was using Caroline to wreak revenge against all men, little did I know that she was involved with Kiki. That is the best kid of twist for me, one that takes you completely unawares. The title too was perfect considering that in the end we learn that both Kwame and Caroline are simply pawns in Kiki and to a smaller extent Jessica’s game.

Defying Reality
The night that Kwame ends up staying over at Jessica’s with Caroline we later see that although she was pumping them full of wine she actually had nothing to drink the whole time. We see her in the flashbacks pouring her wine down the sink. How on earth would they be celebrating Kwame’s birthday and get through the whole bottle of wine and neither Caroline or Kwame noticed that her glass was still full?

How is Kwame going to call Caroline his sister in front of his child who is of school age? She is not two or three. The child is at least 7 years old. Wouldn’t she pipe up, “That’;s not my auntie” or at least shoot her dad a funny look? I would also expect her to report back to her mother about this so called auntie that is turning up at her school but she didn’t. I found that very strange.

Kiki tells Kwame at the end of the movie that both Jessica and Caroline work for him. It didn’t make sense because it was clear that she was not in on it. Judging his Big Boy status and the fact that he has so much to lose wouldn’t he keep strict tabs on who he let in on his inner circle? Wouldn’t he have had direct briefings with Caroline is she was part of the crew? If Caroline was working for him why did she need to be drugged by Jessica?

Close to the end of the movie we see Jessica tell Kiki that Caroline doesn’t know that she is a pawn. This contradicts what Kiki said earlier and when this is revealed Kiki does not seem surprised. This part of the story ie: Caroline’s stance or role in the whole thing needed to be made stronger.

It did not make sense that Jessica was going to start kidnapping a kid and ordering drug smuggling all on the say so of her useless friend. They didn’t even seem that close. How would Jessica even have the gall to suggest it and think that Caroline would play along without asking questions?

The pool scene was after Caroline knew that her friend was using her as a pawn so why wouldn’t she tell him at that point that she is almost being drowned by him, her plan?

Question?
Who is the guy at the end of the movie in the flashback that Caroline was going to shoot?
___________

Conclusion:

I would recommend the movie. It is amazing how one wrong move can spin off a reel of disaster with devastating consequences. The movie was a bit slow to start with but it picked up later on and I liked the ending. Senanu Gbedawo is definitely one to watch out for. Nadia Buari did good but I don’t think she really stretched herself. It was the same sort of good but not great performance that I have come to expect from her. I loved the twist in the movie and had the execution been a bit smoother this could have been an excellent movie. Nevertheless it is still one to watch, especially when you consider the dire releases that we have been subject to this year.

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Comments

  1. Its" have ur cake and eat it too."

  2. "Checkmate" was no "Sting in a Tale", but I must say that Shirley has raised the standard of film production in Africa.

  3. I just wanna ask you nollywood forever if you have other people working for you coz I think they must've made a mistake in the ratings of this movie. How in God's name can they rate this movie 'an ok movie" and then rate naked faces "Most definitely"? Even dou you never reply to any of my comments, I'll still like you to know that you've got that wrong….dunno knw what is happening to your ratings but left to me, I'll say they don't seem as accurate as they use to be, just like the Lakers game these days.

    I don't mean to be rude, don't get me wrong. You are doing a great job and I'm sure everyone appreciates it.I'm just saying that hey! I just finished watching CHECKMATE and I can tell you that that movie is worth much more than the 'ok' dat you gave it. Maybe you should do a poll on it or something. Cheers!

    • There can't be a mistake where a review is one person's take on something. There has been no mistake. You simply don't agree which is your right. There is only one percentage point in the difference between any catgory, be it between Watch? No Bin it and Watch? Only when bored, or between Watch? Yes and Ok Movie and Watch? Yes, most Definitely, so something that scored 75 will get a Ok movie rating and just one more point a 76 moves it up into the next category. There has to be set lines where one rating ends and the other starts.

      Hey Nike the poll is a great idea, for those that are interested. Maybe you should do it.

  4. and oh! to answer your question, the guy @ d end was the security guard that Jessica told kik 'bout. the one that was suppose to be watching the kid and caroline.

  5. Ah ok @Jules. I have seen that movie a little while ago but mine was called 3 Virgins. Na wa for all this repackaging!

  6. This was a very good movie i watched it last night

  7. Checkmate is a very good movie, and well produced and directed.The quality and camera shots are very good.From the trailer preview,i give it 5 stars.

  8. Good movie, Who sings the song that’s playing when they are drinking and she’s dancing on the table please? Ilove it! 🙂

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