CUFF 2020 Review: Crazy World another breathtakingly entertaining and enthusiastic action flick from Uganda’s celebrated ‘Wakaliwood’ director

Nabwana I.G.G., Uganda’s premiere director of wild zero-budget action films, has struck again. If you’ve seen Nabwana’s viral hit Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010), then you know exactly what to expect, and my job is done. If not, read on …

Nabwana I.G.G. makes action movies, using equipment he’s found, recycled, or repaired, and his films cost less than $200 to make. Filmed in Wakaliga (a slum on the outskirts of Uganda’s capital city), his films use local amateurs as actors, stuntmen, extras and crew. Everybody wears their own clothes, and runs around with obviously fake guns, with digital bangs and muzzle flashes added after the fact. Under such circumstances, most films would be unwatchable, but Nabwana’s movies manage to be breathtakingly entertaining. This guy’s a one-man film studio, and he’s jokingly renamed his hometown “Wakaliwood” to reflect that.

For one thing, the Wakaliga slum looks like no other film setting you’ve ever seen — and it’s real. Rusty iron struts, muddy ditches, crumbling brick walls … these are literal ruins. The actors themselves certainly aren’t professionals, but they manage a sincerity that’s astonishing. I guess when you’re living in extreme poverty, and your neighbour gives you a plastic gun and asks you to play make believe for a while, you give it your all. These guys run, jump, punch, kick, and go “pew pew pew” with the best of them. All of these actors want to be Rambo, and Crazy World vibrates with an enthusiasm that’s infectious. 

People come to Wakaliwood films like Crazy World to laugh at the cheapness and ineptitude, but they invariably become admirers. The love of cinema just shines through, and the incredible lack of resources just highlights how much work went into these twisted masterpieces. Plus, there’s real skill demonstrated in the practical aspects of filmmaking. Also, the focus is entirely on the action scenes (since that’s the part that the filmmakers and audiences like best), and there’s very little in the way of dialogue or exposition to get in the way. Both Crazy World and Who Killed Captain Alex? run just over an hour, and that feels like just the right length.

The Wakaliwood crew knows how threadbare and goofy their films look, and embrace it by doubling down on the silliness. Cheap video effects will suddenly appear, announcing a character’s name, or adding video game sound effects as a soldier punches big digital coins out of a bad guy like Super Mario. There’s also the omnipresent “VJ Track” in which a narrator (or “Video Joker”) comments on all the carnage we see. This is the element of Wakaliwood cinema that I was most reluctant to embrace, as it’s like having a drunk loudmouth sitting next to you in a theatre. 

“VJ Emmie” from Captain Alex is back, and some viewers are going to find his constant interruptions insufferable. Typical witticisms include, “Action is coming!” just before a gunfight, or, “Hey Baby!” when there’s a female character onscreen, or even just, “Movie! Movie! Movie!!!” when he can’t think of anything else to say. I’m glad I stuck with it, because once I got used to the VJ track, I didn’t mind it too much, and it was actually useful from time to time. (It’s hard to lose track of the characters when VJ Emmie is constantly bellowing their names. And if you’ve forgotten who the good guys and bad guys are, his cries of “Commandoes!” and “Tiger Mafia!” serve as a reminder.)

So what differentiates Crazy World from previous Wakaliwood ventures? Well, I think these films are getting better. Nabwana I.G.G. has been making loads of action flicks since 2010, and his skill is improving while his enthusiasm remains unabated. (His resources remain ridiculously sparse). Also, this film puts particular emphasis on the talents of a new group of child actors (dubbed the “Waka Starz”), who demonstrate legitimately impressive martial arts skills. 

If you’re still undecided, you can stream Who Killed Captain Alex? for free on YouTube (, Tubi ( and on the Wakaliwood website (, to see if this is your kind of jam.

And then watch Crazy World, because it rocks.

Crazy World is available for screening as part of the Calgary Underground Film Festival until June 28. To watch go to

John Tebbutt is the Video Vulture. He has been writing about obscure and ridiculous cinema since 1997. You can keep up with his nonsense on his website, Facebook, Twitter and through episodes of a program he’s doing with NUTV.