The Agojie, the female protectors of the African Kingdom of Dahomey, is given a remarkable portrayal in director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s film The Woman King. Prince-Bythewood brings together the complexity of feminism from her directing debut with Love & Basketball (2000) and the ire of female warriors from her direction of The Old Guard (2020).
Be sure to also check out The Woman King Quotes, the best lines and quotes from the movie.
The Woman King Review
The first establishing shot of the film tells you all that you need to know about the brilliance and tenacity of the Agojie, as the shot emphasizes their stealthy and steady rise out of the fields at close range to their first enemy, the Mahi.
With both the Oyo Empire and Mahi constantly terrorizing Dahomey’s people and economy, the Agojie set out to first take back their captured people from the Mahi Village.
Although an often victorious group of warriors, the Agojie need to build up their ranks if they have any hopes of declaring victory over the Oyo Empire and cutting off their dependency on Portuguese enslavers, and so new training commences and new warriors are made.
The Agojie general Nanisca (Viola Davis) leads her warriors, old, like Amenza (Sheila Atim) and Izogie (Lashana Lynch) and new, like Nawi (Thuso Mbedu) in beautifully choreographed battle after battle against the Oyo Empire.
The Oyo Empire is not just the polite enemy of the Dahomey, but the very personal enemy of Nanisca, as her past and future have been irrevocably changed by its general’s actions.
The choices that King Ghezo (John Boyega) of the Dahomey and Nanisco will make in and outside of these battles will not only change the course of their history but will change the course of its people’s lives in connection to the world’s early 1800s slave trade.
There are times in the film where the writers and director should have trusted their audience more, but the overall direction and the character building, done through the script and acting, make this film an honorable portrayal of the Agojie and a very important film for understanding the complexities and atrocities of colonialism.
The Woman King holds a referendum on all types of power and ultimately concludes that a community’s commitment to loving its people will always outweigh individual greed.
The Woman King arrives in theaters on September 16th. Check out the trailer here!
The Woman King is the remarkable story of the Agojie, the all-female unit of warriors who protected the African Kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s with skills and a fierceness, unlike anything the world has ever seen. Inspired by true events, The Woman King follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (Oscar®-winner Viola Davis) as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life. Some things are worth fighting for…