MOVIE REVIEW: Once Were Warriors-1994
This is the story of the Heke's, a poor family living in modern day New Zealand. The mother, Beth (Rena Owen) is a descent of the Maori tribe and her family is said to be of royalty. Her husband Jake (Temeura Morrison), is a big brute of a man who's charisma is just as large as his body. Beth is a woman of broken spirits, she feels she did not live up to her full potential. She was once thought to be one of the prettiest women in her village and she abandoned her family and her lineage to marry Jake, now she is just a shell of her former self. Her husband Jake appears to be a loving family man on the surface, but is actually a weak, insecure, drunken monster who uses his wife's body as a way to air out his frustrations. The Heke children are directly affected by their parent's behavior. Nig (Julian Arahanga), the eldest son has joined a tough street gang. The youngest son Boogie (Taungaroa Emile) gets into so much trouble, the courts make him a ward of the state, but while away learns some valuable lessons about his Maori culture. The eldest daughter Gracie (Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell) is a bright, withdrawn loner who writes poetry as an outlet to express her pain. The Heke's have a host of drunken friends who visit the house frequently for impromptu rowdy parties. The turning point of the film is when the man whom Jake considers to be his best friend, Uncle Bully (Cliff Curtis), commits an unspeakable act that leads to further tragedy for the Heke family. No more spoilers from me y'all.
This is a VERY powerful film. Once you view it, you may even realize that you know some "Hekes" of your own, hell you may even be a "Heke" yourself. While watching I thought about how many families I knew growing up that were just like them. All actors in this film did a SUPERB job. The scenes of violence are very strong and may be hard to watch for some. Larry Fishburne's Ike Turner was Big Bird compared to this cat. I'm not much of a crier, but this film made me weep like a baby. The ending is so tragic and triumphant at the same time. It's not a pretty film to watch, so there is not much to speak on as far as scenery goes. The family is very poor but there are some great shots of New Zealand thrown in the mix. The film is in English but the accents are heavy, but not really hard to understand.
VERDICT: 4 Soul Claps
Labels: Movie Reviews