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Politics are already strained between English imperialists and the West African government of Kinjanja, when womanizing British diplomat Morgan Leafy (Colin Friels) is caught in bed with Celia (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer), wife of corrupt Kinjanjan presidential candidate Sam Adekunle (Academy Award winner Louis Gossett Jr.). As punishment, Leafy is forced into bribing an official who has voted down a project that stands to make Adekunle very rich. Leafy thinks he's gotten off easy until he learns the lone holdout is none other than Kinjanja's own brick wall of integrity, Dr. Alex Murray (Connery). Meanwhile, Leafy must also contend with his absurdly stuffy boss Fanshawe (John Lithgow), Fanshawe's lusty wife (Diana Rigg) and their luscious, too friendly daughter! Written by
light humour about incompetence and corruption in Africa
This film was on late night, mid week BBC television ,last week and I found it fairly easy going in general. It wasn't complicated at all although in some ways it attempted to be so due to the sex subplots involving British diplomat Colin Friels (who also bears a passing resemblance to Ewan MacGregor strangely enough). Those subplots of course came second to the themes of corruption, incompetence and confusion which I have to say reign supreme in Africa. The seemingly intelligent, progressive leader is actually corrupt to the core and is well played by Louis Gossett I thought.
The film also took a somewhat farcical view of African culture and politics which is completely over exagerrated but funny nonetheless. For example, the names and words of certain things amused me, like 'newly independent' Kinjanja for example. The local currency was the 'jan-jan' (?), the capital city was unpronouncable, and the locals believe in a god of thunder called 'Shango' which in a way becomes the driving force of the plot and causes our hero Friels all sorts of amusing moments. If struck by lightning, the victim also had to be 'cleansed' by a 'ju-ju' man??!!! True, the locals are portrayed as simple, god fearing, useless idiots which is something of a Euro-stereotype of Africans in general it has to be said. But the British diplomats, played by Friels and Lithgow, are also given rough treatment......they bend over backwards for a corrupt leader, can't deal with local politics, are xenophobic and bumblingly incompetent. But from these situations I did draw a certain degree of amusement, if only due to the fact that I lived in southern africa for over ten years and some of the stereotypes and mishaps were classic Africa.
Some good looking female actors also help the film along although the likes of Diana Rigg are under-used. Connery puts in a forgetful performance but both Friels and Lithgow are entertaining. The sticky atmosphere also comes through as does the general hurly burly life of a foreign diplomat in Africa..........I'll give it 6.5/10, easy going and good for a few laughs.
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