Hugo (Nicholas Fagerberg) is an American drug smuggler whose escapades take him from country to country; he finds his financial problems catching up with him after a deal goes bad. Under pressure to pay his debts, he travels to Uganda in a search of an expensive and sacred drug called Bulu, which allows its user to see into the near future. Hugo’s involvement in the Ugandan black market presents new encounters and threats, putting him in greater danger than he could ever have imagined, and he must befriend conflicting sisters Kisakye (Esther Tebandeke) and Angela (Rehema Nanfuka) to reach his growingly desperate goal. Suddenly, finding and transporting drugs is not as simple as it seemed.
British Ugandan film Imperial Blue is the second feature film release from director Dan Moss, delving into the world of psychedelic drugs and presenting one of his most exciting supernatural concepts to date. With elemental visions leading Hugo’s journey, the character’s story arc develops not at the hands of gun-slinging drug lords in grungy backrooms, but from a growing need to protect his family in London from danger by doing he must in a quiet Ugandan village half a world away.
Imperial Blue is not a run-of-the-mill, drug-induced adventure; it veers away from the classic genre that’s already bursting at the seams and instead pursues a calmer personal voyage of desperate struggle and moral persecution. Filmed largely in the pastures of Uganda, the production is blessed with beautiful scenic shots in magnificent glimpses of the natural environment of the country and an engaging array of sets. The glorious backdrops are complemented by solid performances from Fagerberg and Tebandeke, as they cut through the forestry and build what establishes itself as a believable friendship.
However, the plot leaves a lot of questions unanswered when the closing credits roll, and it does come across a little one-dimensional. With very few twists or turns in the direction, the pacing of the 93-minute runtime is ultimately sluggish. The film also detracts frustratingly from its authenticity by dubbing large portions of the dialogue with lines recorded in a studio, making it more difficult for the viewer to become absorbed in the environmental soundscape on screen. These shortcomings prevent Imperial Blue from truly excelling, but nonetheless the movie generally makes for some thought-provoking observation.
Imperial Blue is released nationwide on 18th January 2021.
Watch the trailer for Imperial Blue here: