Night of the Kings (2021)

Philippe Lacôte directs Bakary Koné, Steve Tientcheu and Jean Cyrille Digbeu in this Ivory Coast prison drama where a new inmate finds himself the evening’s entertainment while a shift in power among the gangs takes place.

A mash-up of A Prophet and Arabian Nights, this is a visually striking often rather sentimental prison thriller. Not every conceit works – the interpretive dance numbers and flashbacks to a world of magic and myths are never given enough space to feel essential. Yet there is a power to Night of the Kings from moment to moment. One imposing character sinks into the underworld with a disturbing acceptance… we share the disorientating rush of becoming the new focal point of La Maca. A beautifully lit shot is always the priority over brutality, it is a very violent and threatening milieu that sidesteps showing too much gore or pain. Worth a watch.

6

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