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Viola Davis, left, and John Boyega star in "The Woman King."

When actress Maria Bello visited the West African nation of Benin in 2015, she learned the history of the Agojie, an all-female military regiment from the Kingdom of Dahomey (and the inspiration for Wakanda’s Dora Milaje from “Black Panther”). Recognizing the cinematic potential for this story, she developed the project with producer Cathy Schulman, and landed “The Old Guard” director Gina Prince-Bythewood as director, as well as the formidable, Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis as star.

The result is “The Woman King,” an epic, inspiring and beautifully made historical action film that puts women in the middle of the battle for Dahomey circa 1823. Some “text-position” lets us know that Dahomey is at war with the Oyo Empire, whose horse-riding, gun-toting warriors led by General Oba Ade (Nollywood star Jimmy Odukoya) collaborate with European slavers, kidnapping fellow Africans to be sold at auction.



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