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Starring: Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, Adrienne Warren, Sheila Atim, Jayme Lawson, Hero Fiennes Tiffin
OUR RATING: ★★★★☆
Historical drama directed and co-written by Gina Prince-Bythewood, inspired by true events, The Woman King (2022) follows Nanisca (Viola Davis), the general of the Dahomey Amazons in the Kingdom of Dahomey, as she trains the next generation of recruits and readies them for battle against an enemy determined to destroy their way of life.
Our Favorite Quotes:'You are powerful. More than you even know. Do not give your power away.' - Izogie (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Amenza: Nanisca, it is a victory. They are here for you.
Nanisca: They do not know an evil is coming.
Amenza: They know you will protect them.
Nawi: The Agojie drink from the skulls of the men they have killed. They cut off their heads and melt off their skin in boiling hot cauldrons.
Moru: I wish to give my daughter to the king. No husband will have her.
Nawi: I will not marry an old man who beats me.
Moru: Go to war then. You will understand what pain is.
Izogie: [as Nawi watches the Agojie train] Close your mouth. You look like a fish.
Izogie: [to Nawi] No men but the eunuchs are allowed in the palace after dark. Beyond this wall, this is a palace of women.
Shante: [referring to Ghezo and Nanisca] Why does he always favor her? She comes here filthy, shows no respect.
Tanonu: She fought for him during the coup. Put him on the throne. What did you do? Locked yourself in a cupboard.
The Meunon: Dahomey has prospered in the peace. And the Oyo too.
Nanisca: The slave trade is the reason we prosper. But at what price? It is a poison slowly killing us, and the Europeans know this. They come to our land for their human cargo.
The Meu: They’ve come to trade. We sell them what they want.
Nanisca: But why do we sell our captives? For weapons? To capture more people to sell for more weapons?
Amenza: It is a dark circle with no end. This is not the way.
Shante: She wants to make us a nation of peasants.
Nanisca: I want Dahomey to survive.
Shante: The gods have brought us a new king. A king to be feared. No one fears a farmer.
'Fighting is not magic. It is skill.' - Nanisca (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
The Migan: You speak in secret to the king. You seek to cut me out.
Nanisca: If the king respects me, it is because I have earned it.
Nanisca: We fight, or we die. We fight for Dahomey, for our sisters, for our great king. You will be revered. You will be paid for your work. Your opinions will be heard. No tribe or kingdom in all of Africa shares this privilege. For this honor, we live out our lives in these palace walls. We take no husband. We will bear no children. Mahi women, no harm will come to you for the sins of your men. I offer you and our people a choice. Any woman who does not wish to stay, may leave.
Izogie: [to Nawi] The first rule of training, always obey Izogie. I am Izogie.
Nawi: I do not want a husband. I want to be a soldier. An Agojie.
Nanisca: How old are you?
Nawi: I am nineteen years.
Nanisca: You look like a child.
Nawi: I work hard. Harder than anyone.
Nanisca: Many obstinate daughters are dumped at the palace. They usually fail.
Nawi: All our lives, they tell us stories about the Agojie. That you have magic. You look like a regular old woman to me.
Nanisca: Fighting is not magic. It is skill. We will see if you have any.
Nawi: Why did you stay?
Ode: Here, I will be the hunter, not prey.
'To be a warrior, you must kill your tears.' - Nanisca (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Izogie: We need smart warriors. The dumb ones die quickly.
Nawi: I’m not dumb.
Izogie: Then show me.
Izogie: [to Nawi] Your family was cruel, as was my mother. It is enough to make you cry. But it is better to laugh. Yes? You have a new family now.
Izogie: [as she’s training Nawi] Get up. You are just waiting to die.
Izogie: Are we training to cook? You are cutting a body, not a yam. Swing with purpose.
'Sometimes a mouse can take down an elephant.' - King Ghezo (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Nawi: You try to stab me, I’ll stab you back.
Nanisca: You like the guns. You enjoy practicing with the men in the infantry. I see you flirting.
Nawi: This is not allowed?
Nanisca: You know it is not.
Nawi: Why not? The men who are soldiers have wives and children. But the Agojie cannot. How is that fair?
Nanisca: Were you this arrogant with your family? No wonder they gave you away.
Nawi: Is it you who is arrogant.
Nanisca: I am a general. I have earned it. You have earned nothing.
Nanisca: I should put you out. I have watched soldiers die because they did not have discipline. Their easy life did not prepare them for this life here as an Agojie.
Nawi: I did not have an easy life! I did not have an easy life. Please. I want to be with the others. I want to fight for my king.
Nanisca: Your tears mean nothing. To be a warrior, you must kill your tears.
Tara: She killed our people.
Ode: You killed mine.
Amenza: Me, I also came here a captive. Do you think yourself better than me?
Tara: No, Ajahi.
Amenza: If you make it through the final test, you are one of us. No matter where you come from.
Izogie: Why do you challenge the miganon?
Nawi: If I’m quiet, she won’t see me.
Izogie: Do you think she has time to think about you? She is thinking about the world. You know she may one day be the kpojito.
Nawi: The woman king?
'Vision is seeing what others do not.' - Nanisca (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Izogie: Ghezo will name a woman king. For the gods and the people.
Nawi: But is that what the miganon wants?
Izogie: I cannot say. But in the palace, she is a legend. Captured as a young soldier. Given up for dead. But she returned, with the Oyo b****rds’ kofes hanging by her belt.
Amenza: Nanisca. What happened?
Nanisca: Your nuts were finally right.
Oba Ade: Dahomey has no soldiers man enough. They have to use their women. It is against the gods. My men will find plenty of use for them.
Nanisca: [as she kicks the basket of heads towards him] You’re mistaken. These soldiers are not your tribute. This is your tribute! Let it be known to all The great and mighty King Ghezo fears no one.
Nanisca: We are Agojie. We do not act alone. We move together with one purpose. Alone, you are weak. Alone, you are killed or worse.
'To be great, you must focus. There can be no distractions.' - Izogie (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Shante: I wish to be your friend. I can help you. I have the king’s ear. We should work together to serve our king. To ensure he grows only more powerful.
Nanisca: It is you who wants to be powerful. To stay safe and rich in your fine palace.
Shante: Too much change can be dangerous. I have said this much to my husband.
Nanisca: Then we will soon understand who truly has his ear.
King Ghezo: Nanisca, we will be the greatest empire in Africa.
Nanisca: Yes, my king. But let us not be an empire who sells its people. Let us be an empire who loves its people.
King Ghezo: My brother sold our own. I will never do that.
Nanisca: Even if they are not Dahomey, they are still our people. The white man has brought immorality here. They will not stop until the whole of Africa is theirs to enslave.
'We fight not just for today, but for the future.' - Nanisca (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Malik: My mother was Dahomey.
Nawi: You do not look like Dahomey.
Malik: My father is white.
Nawi: So you are Dahomey, but not. And white, but not.
King Ghezo: [to Nawi] You are beautiful as you are fierce. If she was not so skilled, I would have made her a wife now.
'Fear not. Face it head-on. Relentlessly, we will fight.' - Nawi (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
King Ghezo: You are the strongest warriors in Africa. Welcome to the King’s Guard.
Nanisca: [referring to the scar on her shoulder] What is this?
Nawi: My father used to call it the devil’s mark. It was there when he chose me from the orphanage.
Nanisca: You are an orphan? But your father…
Nawi: He took me in. I guess I didn’t turn out to be the daughter he wanted.
'That is what makes a great leader. Seeing what others do not.' - King Ghezo (The Woman King) Click To Tweet
Amenza: I followed your order, to free you of the burden, and I chose to give her away.
Nanisca: And that is all you know?
Amenza: Yes! I do not lie to you. Why do you ask these questions after all this time? Because Nawi is an orphan? You couldn’t possibly think that she…
Nanisca: Of course not. No.
Amenza: The gods are not that cruel.