Where There’s Smoke Review

Screen Shot 2019-07-31 at 3.37.20 PM
Genre: Action/Crime Drama/Thriller

Year Released: 2015
Distributor: Unlicensed

Origin: Namibia
Running Time: 10 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+

Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: Corruption [Pascal Aka film], Die Hard series, Hobbs and Shaw, The Equalizer, Taken, The Bourne Identity
-This film is streaming on YouTube.

Fun Facts:
-This is the directorial debut of Namibian film director Oshoveli Steve Shipoh. He even acts in this film. You might know him because I’ve reviewed his other films such as Looking for Nelao and Painted Scars.

-Where There’s Smoke was filmed directly in Windhoek. It’s the capital and largest city of Namibia with over 325,000 people living there. Also, it’s pronounced Vind-Hook.

We meet again, Oshoveli Shipoh. You seem to be the main Namibian director to whom I’ve been exposed over the past several months. I thought it would be another good addition to check out a part of your older filmography. This one was certainly a different genre than the other films I watched, but it had some familiarity being a silent film much like Looking for Nelao.

Let’s see how this short film goes.

Where There’s Smoke deals with a hostage crisis in the bustling city of Windhoek. There’s a woman who’s kidnapped by a serial killer whose last victim was a local teacher. A gunman is hired by a man known as the Major to retrieve the hostage. However, they can’t get the cops involved or anything. Major is willing to transfer the ransom money to the criminal as part of the hostage negotiation, but the gunman is under serious attack. Meanwhile, there’s a mysterious sniper with sunglasses who’s watching the whole thing from afar.

This was a quick watch that certainly kept my attention. Hostage movies aren’t a new thing, but the plot was basic and easy to follow for anyone to grasp. The silent movie thing was something strange for this genre, but it really wasn’t distracting as I would expect. The acting was certainly competent with everyone playing their parts well even when their voices aren’t heard. While the production wasn’t as crisp as Looking for Nelao or Painted Scars, the camera work was certainly decent with the right warm colors reflecting the humid climate of Windhoek while also adding a sense of stress to the whole hostage crisis. There was also a plot twist that I didn’t see coming that made a surprising amount of sense given the backstory of some of the characters. The movie doesn’t overstay its welcome and tells a complete story in just ten minutes.

Where There’s Smoke had noxious elements though. The most obvious aspect is that it’s a damsel in distress plot. The captive is the only notable female character and the other one is already dead, so it was up to the men to save her from harm which left a bad taste in my mouth because as much as I have severe issues with Disney, even they’ve progressed better than this in their films for years now. There were subtitle typos in a couple of scenes which I noticed right away. The score was a repetitive instrumental hip-hop sample that sounded fine at first, but it got annoying later on. The main hero gets his thunder stolen in a very unflattering way when another character takes all the glory. It ties in the plot twist, and while it made sense and was genuinely unpredictable, it killed the efficiency of the protagonist and there is an unfortunate implication with that twist when it came to that other character taking on the serial in question. I won’t spoil it, but someone like Shipoh should really know better when it comes to representation and characterization dealing with the majority of the Namibian population and I’ll leave it at that.

This short action film was a fast watch, but I wished things were better throughout the whole film. The plot was simple, but the twist both helped and hindered the film. It was disappointing to see the main hero being undercut in that way. The music was repetitive and got annoying over time for my ears. The damsel in distress elements won’t do a lot of favors going on. Where There’s Smoke Wasn’t my favorite of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh’s films in my opinion.

Adjustable Rating System:
Add 1-2 points if you like thrillers.
Subtract 1-2 points if you want a more original story.


-Tells a complete story in a short amount of time
-Good film production
-Competent acting

-Damsel in Distress elements
-The main hero is overshadowed by a plot twist
-Subtitle errors

Final Score: 4/10 points

Content Warning: Where There’s Smoke would probably be rated PG-13 if this got an official rating. Murder is discussed and guns are used throughout the movie. The language gets very strong in parts in the subtitles.

-Curtis Monroe

All photos used under US “Fair Use” laws. Where There’s Smoke is property of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of Oshoveli Steve Shipoh.

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