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Friday, 22 November 2019

Al Kenz II: Egyptian cinema's sequel mania but not in the usual sense

Al-Kenz II: Al-Hob wal Massir (The Treasure II: Love and Destiny) is the second part of director Sherif Arafa’s 2017 collaboration with screenwriter Abdel-Rehim Kamal

Soha Hesham , Thursday 22 Aug 2019
Al Kenz
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This Eid season families who celebrate by going to the movies had five choices, three of which are sequels – an unprecedented phenomenon pointing perhaps to greater commercialisation. One was Khayal Maata (Scarecrow) starring Ahmed Helmy in his silver-screen comeback and written by Abdel-Rehim Kamal (also the author of Al-Kenz) who, together with Helmy, was accused of plagiarism by screenwriter Nehal Samaha, who declared she had discussed the premise with Helmy’s wife actress Mona Zaki.

Other offerings included a sequel to Welad Rizk (Sons of Rizk) starring Ahmed Al-Fishawi, Ahmed Ezz and Amr Youssef, written by Salah Al-Geheini and directed by Tarek Al-Eryan, the new Ahmad Al-Sobki production Enta Habibi wi Bas (You’re My Only Love), a comedy starring Safinaz and singer Al-Leithi and directed by Ahmed Al-Badri, director Marwan Hamed’s The Blue Elephant II (actually released before the Eid and previously reviewed here) and Al-Kenz II.

Al-Kenz II: Al-Hob wal Massir (The Treasure II: Love and Destiny) is the second part of director Sherif Arafa’s 2017 collaboration with screenwriter Abdel-Rehim Kamal Al-Kenz: Al-Haqiqa wal Khayal (The Treasure: The Truth and Fantasy), produced by Walid Sabri.

It brings together three intertwined tales that deliver the same message over and over even though they are set in different eras: the story of Queen Hatshepsut (Hind Sabri), the second confirmed female Pharaoh who fought for her crown after the death of her husband Thutmose II, balancing religion and politics as she schemes to reach the top and even giving up her love for Senenmut (Hani Adel) to preserve her power until the crown goes to Thutmose III (Ahmed Malek); the story of the Robin Hood-like figure Ali Al-Zebaa (Mohamed Ramadan) and his gang, who fights the unjust Ottoman official Al-Kalbi (Abbas Abul-Hassan), once again evidencing a corrupt connection between religion and politics, even though he is in love with his daughter Nafissa (Rouby); and the story of Bishr Pasha Al-Katatny himself, who witnesses the events of the 1952 revolution as an adult and loses his beloved Neemat (Amina Khalil) when she marries his brother Mustafa (Haitham Ahmed Zaki).

The treasure of the title, which Hassan eventually finds, turns out to be the tomb built by Senenmut for himself and Hatshepsut.

This is not a sequel in the usual sense, however, since Al-Kenz is effectively one long film chopped down the middle, with the second film simply continuing the events of the first, which ended abruptly and unjustifiably for the viewer.

In both the ideas are in-your-face, the dialogue cliched and unconvincing with inopportune jokes ruining the scenes between Sabri and Adel especially. Nor are costume and décor very sound, with the makeup – in the case of Ahmed Rizk as Hassan’s old guide, for example – being particularly unsuccessful.

Acting was very uneven, with a confusing cameo by Sawsan Badr at the start, inappropriately theatrical delivery by Abdel-Aziz Makhyoun as the Pharaonic Sage Ini and excellent work by comedian Mohamed Saad, who proves he is able to transcend his traditional stock characters, such as Al-Lemby.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 22 August 2019 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Sequel mania

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