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Once Were Warriors (1994)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  3 March 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 24,277 users  
Reviews: 270 user | 50 critic

A family descended from Maori warriors is bedeviled by a violent father and the societal problems of being treated as outcasts.



, (novel)
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21 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Taungaroa Emile ...
Rachael Morris Jr. ...
Joseph Kairau ...
Pete Smith ...
George Henare ...
Mere Boynton ...
Shannon Williams ...
Calvin Tuteao ...
Taka (Gang Leader)
Ray Bishop ...
King Hitter (in pub)
Ian Mune ...


Set in urban Auckland (New Zealand) this movie tells the story of the Heke family. Jake Heke is a violent man who beats his wife frequently when drunk, and yet obviously loves both her and his family. The movie follows a period of several weeks in the family's life showing Jake's frequent outburst of violence and the effect that this has on his family. The youngest son is in trouble with the police and may be put into a foster home while the elder son is about to join a street gang. Jake's daughter has her own serious problems which are a key element in the plot. Written by Chris Maslin <maslinc@cad.canterbury.ac.nz>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A family in crisis, a life in chaos... Nothing is more powerful than a mother's love. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language and strong depiction of domestic abuse, including sexual violence and substance abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



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Release Date:

3 March 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Alma dos Guerreiros  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$2,201,126 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Julian Arahanga said that Rena Owen's performance was so powerful, she became the anchor point for all the other actors in the movie. See more »


When Beth is being beaten by Jake at the start of the film she is thrown into a mirror which shatters completely. Later when the children are cleaning up the mess the mirror is back on the wall with only a few cracks. See more »


Jake Heke: Where the fuck you off to? Come have a feed boy!
Nig Heke: Nuh.
Jake Heke: Fuck him!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Before the ending credits start, a giant 'END' covers the screen. See more »


Featured in Getaway: Episode #16.35 (2007) See more »

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User Reviews

brutal & compelling
12 February 2003 | by (Melbourne Australia) – See all my reviews

One of the best films of the 1990's, a brutal, brilliant & compelling film from New Zealand. Brilliant performances from Morrison, Owen & Kerr-Bell as Gracie. Morrison as Jake is one of film's most fearsome characters, full of true anger & hate but by no means a one-dimensional character. As see the characteristics that made Beth fall in love with him in the first place, the passion, the charisma. A great script based on the novel of the same name. A must see 10/10

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