Once Were Warriors Blu-ray Review - www.impulsegamer.com -

Feature 8.0
Video 9.0
Audio 8.5
Special Features 8.0
Total 8.5
Distributor: Icon
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Reviewer:
Simon Black
Classification:
MA15+

8.7


Once Were Warriors

Set against the backdrop of Otara, a highly urbanised suburb of South Auckland, Once Were Warriors revolves around a poverty-stricken Maori family and their colourful circle of acquaintances.  Short-tempered patriarch Jake ‘The Muss’ Heke (Temeura Morrison) has recently been laid off from his job, and busies himself predominantly with drinking and fighting.  His wife Beth (Rena Owen) is left to pick up the pieces of their shattered family life amid the aftermath of Jake’s violent outbursts, and does her best to salvage some sense of normality despite losing her two eldest sons to gang life, and bearing the all-too-literal scars of marriage to a violent alcoholic.  Her spirit remains unbowed however, and as the narrative progresses she quickly becomes the pivotal character, carrying the story with a deftness and sensitivity that are especially startling in light of the fact this was only her second film role.

Lee Tamahori’s feature debut remains a landmark of New Zealand cinema, and the intervening decade and a half has not dulled its impact to any degree.  The pivotal early scene of shocking domestic violence remains equally confronting at 15 years remove, and Morrison’s Jake is as brutish and complicated a filmic creation as any spawned in recent memory.  Owen plays brilliantly off Morrison’s palpable, bullish energy, and the rest of the mostly unknown cast, such as Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell as the couple’s intelligent and aptly named 13-year-old daughter Grace, are equally as convincing.  The violence is stark and repugnant, and Tamahori does not spare the viewer for an instant, depicting every blow in painful and unflinching detail.  The film does also not shy from depictions of teenage drug use and sexual abuse.  Far from being depressing, however, its thoughtful performances ensure the story retains its humanity, as these downtrodden but not defeated people try to salvage what joy they can from the wreckage of their lives, and the uncertainty of the future.

The film also concerns itself with the search for identity and heritage.  Whereas Beth is connected to her ancestry and proud of her Maori warrior blood, Jake remains removed from his past and in every sense an outsider.  Knowing he will likely never escape the stigma of his low socioeconomic status, he remains disdainful towards his own lineage and, by implication, himself.  “Fuck this ‘once were warriors’ shit!” he repeatedly rails during the film’s powerful concluding scene, and elsewhere makes reference to his forbears being little more than slaves.  It is partly this sense of displacement which drives Jake to commit such wanton acts of alcohol-fuelled self-destruction, and overall Tamahori deals with the plight of the urban Maori in a way that is realistic and unforgettable, if not entirely indicative of the indigenous New Zealand peoples as a whole. 

Not for the faint of heart (or weak of stomach), this gripping drama will nonetheless make a fine addition to any burgeoning blu-ray collection.  The transfer is excellent, picture and audio quality pristine throughout and the special features exemplary, with Tamahori’s audio commentary in particular providing many interesting insights into the filmmaking experience.  From its humorous and telling opening shot to its compelling conclusion, Once Were Warriors maintains its momentum and clarity, remaining one of the highlights of 1990s cinema and a blu-ray release not to be missed. 

Special Features

Thunderbox: Short Film by Lee Tamahori

Cast Interviews

Music Videos

Cast Biographies

Making-Of Featurette

Audio Commentary by Director Lee Tamahori






 
 



   Games
   PlayStation 4
   XBox One
   PlayStation 3
   XBox 360
   PC
   PS Vita
   Wii U
   Wii
   3DS
   DS
   PSP
   Apple
   Casual
   Android
   Classics

  Movies
   Movies & IMAX
   Blu-ray
   Action
   Anime
   Comedy
   Crime & Thrillers
   Documentaries
   Drama
   Family
   Horror
   Kids
   Lifestyle
   Music
   Romance
   Sci-fi
   Sport

   IT
   PC
   Apple
   Hardware

   Information & Fun
   News
   Interviews
   Articles

   Tara's G-Spot
   Loren's Level
   Comics
   Books
   Mind & Body
   Music
   Competitions
   Community
 








 
 




Impulse Gamer is your source for the
latest Reviews and News on Video Games,
Entertainment, Pop Culture, Hardware &
More!

 


© 2001 - 2013 Impulse Gamer
 

 

About Us | Contact Us