Top 5 Classic Nigerian Movies of All Time

Published on: October 3, 2021 (Updated on: April 22, 2024)

Top 5 Classic Nigerian Movies of All Time
Top 5 Classic Nigerian Movies of All Time

This article highlights top 5 classic Nigerian movies of all time. The Nigerian movie industry popularly called Nollywood began to blossom in the late 80s and 90s with movies like living in bondage and blood money paving the way for a new dispensation of Nigerian filmmakers, directors, and actors. Though the dispensation was far from perfect in terms of technical skill, they were far better than what they used to be.

Nollywood is now over 30 years old and our films have made so many records and have been watched all over the world, the industry is currently the second-highest movie production industry in the world and has broken so many national and international records. It is important to pay homage to those films that paved the way. Below is a list of the top 5 classic Nigerian movies of all time.

Criteria for the selection is based on the critical acclaim of these movies, their cultural impact, and my personal opinion.

Top 5 classic Nigerian movies of all time

1. Saworo ide

Saworo Ide is one of the top 5 classic Nigerian movies

Produced and directed by Tunde Kelani of Mainframe productions, Saworo Ide is a political satire that describes the state of the Nigerian federation and its love-hate affair with military rule. It is the story of a fictional town called Jogbo where specific rituals have to be done before a new King is crowned.

The incumbent King, Lapite, decides to cheat the system and neglect the rituals in order to get wealthy. After king Lapite finds out that kings who do not complete the rituals die when the Saworo Ide drum is played, he decides to abduct the drum.

The chiefs in his cabinet also revealed to him that he could lose his kingship to his kinsman, so he decides to have the kinsman assassinated in the bid to protect his rule.

The film received critical acclaim for its writing, acting and cinematography and was listed as one the top ten best selling indeginous Yoruba films of all time.

2. Diamond Ring

Nigerian movie titled Diamond Ring released in 1998

Written, produced, and directed by veteran filmmaker Tade Ogidan, Diamond ring was released in 1998 and was one of Nigeria's first horror films. It starred Richard Mofe Damijo, Sola Sobowale, Liz Benson and Teju Babyface. The story revolves around a university freshman who in the bid to prove himself to his cult members decides to rob the grave of a prominent socialite.

The crew successfully steals a diamond ring from the corpse and begins to get tormented by the spirit of the corpse they robbed. Chidi's family is given a deadline by the spirit to locate and return the ring or lose their only son. The movie can be praised for its use of special effects and is considered as one the best well-made Nollywood films of all time.

3. Living in Bondage

Nollywood movie titled Living in Bondage

Regarded as one of the movies that ushered in the home video dispensation of Nollywood, it was released in 1992 and became one of the first Nigerian movies to achieve blockbuster success. The film was produced and written by Okechuckewu Ogunjiofor and stars Kenneth Okonkwo in his breakout role.

The story takes viewers into the world of the occult through the experiences of the lead character Andy. In the bid to become wealthy, Andy gets lured into the occultic world by an old friend and is required to pledge his soul to Lucifer and sacrifice his loved ones in order to become wealthy.

4. State of emergency

The action-packed movie was released in 2004 by producer Teco Benson. The movie plot revolves around a group of Nigerian senators who were abducted and held for ransom by an elite group of mercenaries. In a bid to rescue them, the government decides to send a couple of their best men led by Saint Obi. The movie is famous for its action scenes and can be likened to Bruce willis's Die hard.

5. Karashika


This horror classic was released in 1996 and followed the occultic theme which was gaining popularity amongst filmmakers in the 90s. Following in the footstep of films like Living in Bondage, Blood Money and Suicide Mission, Karashika stars Becky Okorie in the titular role.

Karashika serves as second in command to the devil and is asked to go into the world to lead people into destruction in order to populate hell. While the movie in retrospect may seem thin plotted, I consider it to be one of the best of its time.

Top 5 Classic Nigerian Movies