Awfully Good: Wakaliwood’s Who Killed Captain Alex?

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

If you loved BLACK PANTHER and miss Wakanda, may we suggest the amazing cinema of Uganda…

Wakaliwood’s Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)

Director: Isaac Nabwana
Stars: Kakule William, Sserunya Ernest, G. Puffs

Only the fearsome Captain Alex is man enough to take down the Tiger Mafia, led by evil warlord Richard. Unfortunately…

WHO KILLED CAPTAIN ALEX? is a love letter to movies and anyone who’s ever dreamed of making their own films. From director Isaac Nabwana and his Wakaliwood studio, CAPTAIN ALEX bills itself as Uganda’s first action film and it’s wild and crazy enough to put the filmmaker and the country on the cinematic map. There’s more heart and pure joy in this movie than pretty much any Western blockbuster—and it was all made for a reported budget of $200.

Everyone’s going to fight over what they get to be for Halloween this year.

If you’re not familiar with Wakaliwood, it’s the name given to the film “industry” that’s been built by Nabwana in the slums of Wakaliga, Uganda. At 32, Nabwana decided to follow his dreams of making his own movies, despite a lack of experience and resources. He taught himself every aspect of filmmaking, from cinematography to editing to special effects. He even learned how build his own computer so he could use proper editing and VFX software. Together with the help of family and friends, he’s turned their neighborhood in to a makeshift movie studio that’s cranked out over 40 no-budget films since 2006—even though their area is prone to flooding and doesn’t have consistent electricity.

Sure, there are plenty of B-movies out there that make due with miniscule funds. But Nabwana’s ingenuity in making the most out of literally nothing makes his films truly a sight to behold. All equipment, props and effects are homemade from things the crew has found or salvaged. They rigged a car jack as a tripod for the camera and built a crane out of scrap metal from a junkyard. Guns are made out of various pipes and lawnmower parts and their bullets are carved out of wood. Nabwana’s wife (and Production Manager) has even become something of an expert at practical effects, making squibs out of condoms and allegedly using real cow blood from a slaughterhouse until actors started getting sick.

It’s nice to know that no matter how far apart we are in the world and no matter what language we speak, there are just some inherent cultural values we all share. Like “Yo Mama” jokes.

However, it’s not just the story behind the movie that makes CAPTAIN ALEX work so well. The film itself is wildly entertaining no matter how cheesy and unpolished it is. The plot has a little bit of everything—crime drama, mobster action, and, in a truly glorious surprise, a hero who is a Ugandan-Shaolin monk out for kung fu vengeance. Things take some creative turns and there’s a knowing humor to everything that is funny in a “laughing with you” kind of way. Not to mention a level of violence that’s earned Nabwana the nickname “Uganda’s Tarantino.”

The film’s last act is worth the price of admission alone; action packed with martial arts showdowns, massive explosions, and helicopter special effects. And Nabwana is not afraid of greenscreen work, even with the lack of resources or money. Sure, none of it may even be approaching the realm of realism, but there’s energy and fun that matches movies with literally a million times the budget.

And did I mention the film continually uses a cover of “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal as random background music?

I’ll take “Movie’s I’d Rather See Than The TOP GUN Sequel” for $100, Alex.

But perhaps the best thing about the film is the VJ. In Ugandan theaters, “Video Jokers” provide live colorful commentary over the movie and the released version of CAPTAIN ALEX includes the VJ track, Yes, they’re essentially MST3King their own film and, yes, it does mean competing audio and subtitles tracks, but, trust me, it’s well worth it. The VJ does it all—

  • He introduces characters and explains the plot as it unfolds
  • He makes snide comments about these characters and plot
  • He pimps the film and the filmmakers while the movie is still going (“WHO KILLED CAPTAIN ALEX? One hell of a movie!”)
  • He assuages the audience’s fears (“Action is coming. I promise you.”)
  • He provides social commentary and jokes about life in Uganda (A woman is captured and told she will be forced to marry a vicious warlord: “Welcome to Uganda!”)
  • Sometimes he just yells random words to garner excitement like “Warrior!” “Commando!” or “Movie!” Other times, he may make random fart noises when he’s bored by what’s happening onscreen.

Watch either of the clips below to see what I mean.

Is that an AR-15? That’s how we enjoy school in the United States.

It sounds corny, but what Nabwana and his crew of dedicated movie lovers have done is a testament to the human spirit. If you need motivation to get out there and do what makes you happy, regardless of your situation, check out CAPTAIN ALEX or visit their official site or YouTube channel. They may not be polished or professional by Hollywood standards, but I’d watch a dozen Wakaliwood movies before sitting through another TRANSFORMERS film.

Words to live by. Thanks Wakaliwood.

The best of the VJ’s ridiculous narration.

A sample of some of the movie’s amazing action scenes.

The sultry voice of VJ Emmie is all you get.

Good news! You can watch WHO KILLED CAPTAIN ALEX? for free on the Wakaliwood YouTube page here!

Take a shot or drink every time:

  • The VJ yells out the words “Commando” or “Warrior”
  • The VJ says the name of the movie
  • The VJ says “Expect the unexpectable”
  • Richard slaps someone

Double shot if:

  • Captain Alex dies

Thanks to Reggie for suggesting this week’s movie!

Seen a movie that should be featured on this column? Shoot Jason an email or follow him on Twitter and give him an excuse to drink.


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