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Once Were Warriors (1994)

 -  Crime | Drama  -  3 March 1995 (USA)
8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 21,224 users  
Reviews: 265 user | 49 critic

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Taungaroa Emile ...
Rachael Morris Jr. ...
Joseph Kairau ...
...
Bully
Pete Smith ...
Dooley
George Henare ...
Bennett
Mere Boynton ...
Shannon Williams ...
Calvin Tuteao ...
Taka (Gang Leader)
Ray Bishop ...
King Hitter (in pub)
Ian Mune ...
Judge
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Storyline

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

Plot Keywords:

new zealand | gang | maori | violence | police | See more »

Taglines:

Her only chance for the future is to embrace the power of her past. See more »

Genres:

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:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

3 March 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Once Were Warriors  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$2,201,126 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

(Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The building used for the interior and exterior courtroom shots is the main office and warehouse in New Zealand for Apple Computer's national distributor. Although the entrance has been remodeled and the reception area totally changed, the small wall tiles seen on the interior walls can still be found in what is now a cupboard under the (now-enclosed) staircase shown. See more »

Goofs

During the first party (when Jake forcibly ejects a "wanker" male guest), there is a continuity error between when we first see Jake angrily coming at the guest (from the inside, in the kitchen) and the shot when we see the guest ejected (from the exterior of the house). The error is that from the inside we see one exit from the home (just to the left of the kitchen), and from the outside we see the guest being ejected from somewhere entirely different (looks like from the opposite end of the home entirely, because you can't even see the kitchen windows which look out onto the backyard). See more »

Quotes

Beth Heke: Our people once were warriors. But unlike you, Jake, they were people with mana, pride; people with spirit. If my spirit can survive living with you for eighteen years, then I can survive anything.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Most of the opening credits are either split in half, scattered in different areas of the screen, abnormally shaped or used in small white print. Some are even mixed. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tromeo and Juliet (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

A Powerful Depiction of a Family Coming Apart
21 November 2003 | by (Bow, NH) – See all my reviews

There are films where you can see extensive carnage and it doesn't move you. This is a film where you see a man hit his wife and it hits you in the gut like you're being hit yourself. An excellent depiction of the impact of anger and violence on the members of a poor family. In this case, they happen to be Maoris living in New Zealand. The father dominates the family because he is so powerless in the other facets of his life. He's addicted to boozing and carousing and the only way he can really express himself is with his fists. The wife fights back, but can be beaten into submission. But she's also allowed herself to be seduced by the boozy lifestyle and fears responsibility. The center of the family is the oldest daughter (13), who is really the only one who can communicate with all the other members. The boys are either lost in life or lost in their own rage. The youngest daughter is simply too small and clings to her sister. It takes a tragedy to allow some of these individuals to reach out for each other and try to re-create a form of family life. A very powerful film, not for the faint of heart.


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