THE WOMAN KING Review — Long May She Reign

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Lisa Johnson Mandell’s The Woman King review raves that it’s a fierce, fiery and fabulous epic with something to inspire everyone.

The Woman King reviewThe first thing you need to know about The Woman King is that it’s not just a female empowerment film. It’s that and so much more—a masterful action/adventure, a coming of age film, a romance flick, a story of redemption, a period piece and… the list goes on and on. There is something for everyone, regardless of race, gender or relation.

It would seem that Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball, The Secret Life of Bees) was made to direct this powerfully moving tale inspired by the true story of the Agojie, a fierce, female band of warriors who lived to protect their West African kingdom in pre-colonial West Africa in the 1800s.

Academy Award-winner Viola Davis (Fences, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom) plays General Nanisca the uncompromising leader of the Agojie, who pledge lifelong celibacy and undying commitment.

As fresh recruit Nawi (radiant newcomer Thuso Mbedu) goes through their rigorous training process, she questions the Agojie traditions, which forces General Nanisca to confront her past and present way of leading, as well as her tribe’s way of living. The practice of Africans selling their fellow Africans into slavery is still thriving, but the Agojie may have the will and power to put an end to it.

While almost all of the female performances were stellar,  I couldn’t tear my eyes away from two: Lashana Lynch and Sheila Atim, who played fiercely loyal Agojie leaders, and were mesmerizing.

A few words about Davis’s performance—I wasn’t sure I could get past her cringe-worthy portrayal of Michelle Obama in The First Lady limited series on Showtime. But after seeing her as the strong yet vulnerable, implacably committed warrior in The Woman King, all is forgiven.

I usually have a weak stomach for violent and bloody battle scenes, yet Prince-Bythewood was able to present them as both brutal and balletic. I’m not going to lie, I did get a visceral thrill from watching females acting in unison to adroitly overpower their male oppressors.

It’s refreshing to see such a bold film defying stereotypes and cliches, circumventing the obvious to give us surprises and unexpected plot twists. Flawed human heroes without supernatural gifts, fighting evil and their own shortcomings to achieve a common goal—what a concept!

I’m hoping for a sequel.

Rated PG-13

2 Hours 6 Minutes

If this The Woman King review encourages you to march on over to the cineplex (as well it should) get times and tickets at

Lisa Johnson Mandell’s The Woman King review raves that it’s a fierce, fiery and fabulous epic with something to inspire everyone.

THE WOMAN KING Review — Long May She Reign





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Lisa Johnson Mandell

Lisa Johnson Mandell is an award winning journalist, author and film/TV critic. She can be heard regularly on Cumulus radio stations throughout the US, and seen on Rotten Tomatoes. She recently founded the new lifestyle website, where celebrities and experts share their 5 favorite things in the fields of entertainment, lifestyle, wellness, home and food & drink.

1 Comment

  1. Nicholas Lehmkuhl on September 12, 2022 at 5:57 pm

    Do you know anything about the people from Dahomey? They were ruthless slave traders. The king portrayed in the movie rebuffed all attempts to stop the slave trade until the British blocked them in. If these are flawed hero’s then what about Washington, Jefferson et el?

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