In New Zealand in the 1860s the native Maori people fought the British colonials to keep the land guaranteed to them by treaty. The warrior Te Wheke fights for the British until betrayal ... See full summary »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Anzac Wallace ...
Te Wheke
Tim Elliott ...
Col. Elliot
Kelly Johnson ...
Lt. Scott
Wi Kuki Kaa ...
Tania Bristowe ...
Ilona Rodgers ...
Emily Williamson
Merata Mita ...
Faenza Reuben ...
Tom Poata ...
Martyn Sanderson ...
Dick Puanaki ...
Sean Duffy ...
Cpl. Jones
Ian Watkin ...


In New Zealand in the 1860s the native Maori people fought the British colonials to keep the land guaranteed to them by treaty. The warrior Te Wheke fights for the British until betrayal leads him to seek utu (revenge). The settler Williamson in turn seeks revenge after Te Wheke attacks his homestead. Meanwhile Wiremu, an officer for the British, seems to think that resistance is futile. Written by Brian Rawnsley <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

27 June 1984 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Hämnden  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Utu is translated (by the Maori people) not as revenge, but as balanced exchange or reciprocity. See more »


One of the characters observes "Something wicked this way comes", quoting the title of the Ray Bradbury novel written 100 years later. Note: The line "Something wicked this way comes" is originally from Shakespeare's play Macbeth written almost 300 years before the time the film is set. See more »


Featured in Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Blood for blood
8 May 2006 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

Utu – Maori for 'Blood for Blood' - is almost a great film. It's certainly a terrific 'Western,' even if it is set in New Zealand in 1870. It's a Maori version of any number of Westerns where Geronimo jumps the reservation and starts a private war, with Anzac Wallace's army tracker Te Wheke deserting when he finds the British Army have destroyed his peaceful village and seeking revenge on all the 'Pakehas.' As his guerrilla war continues, more and more Maori soldiers desert to Te Wheke's cause (not always welcome, either), preconceived notions of right and wrong are challenged as alliances and agendas shift until nobody's hands are clean.

Director and co-writer Geoff Murphy knows how to use the camera and uses the landscape superbly, capturing the wet humid feel of a country at once half-built and already decaying, but more than that he tells a great story with some terrific scenes that hark back to a style of classic but morally complex storytelling that went out of fashion in the late 60s and early 70s. There's also a level of savagery that's long been lost in American cinema – not only does he hang the verger from bell rope but he also hacks off the head of the vicar in front of his congregation and then delivers a sermon of his own with the head resting beside him on the pulpit. The action scenes are superbly handled, at once brutally realistic and engrossing. Unfortunately he miscalculates with Bruno Lawrence's initially intriguing settler seeking revenge of his own, overplaying the comedy in his madness. It's not enough to overbalance the film but it does undermine the character, and it's often unnecessary in a film which has a lot of dry wit in the script already. Sadly the Kino DVD copy is pretty disgraceful, a real pity for a film that looks this good.

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