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Once Were Warriors (1994)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  3 March 1995 (USA)
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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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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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Her only chance for the future is to embrace the power of her past. 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:



| |

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?


Actor Cliff Curtis initially refused the role of Uncle Bully as he found the character so repulsive, but his agent and his auntie persuaded him to do it. 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 »


Grace Heke: Why's everything so black, Toot?
Toot: Dunno - maybe cos we're all bloody Maoris!
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 »


Referenced in Die Another Day: From Script to Screen (2002) See more »

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User Reviews

A great film
18 September 2003 | by (Orange County, CA USA) – See all my reviews

"Once Were Warriors" tells of one woman's struggle to free herself and her family from the fist of abuse, the grip of oppression, and the slow assassination of self esteem at the hands of an alcoholic husband. This film's story of a Maori (indigenous New Zealanders) underclass family shows the male turning to violence and self destruction to vent frustration with his plight while the female draws strength from her cultural heritage in an attempt to save her children and restore their dignity. Gripping, intense, and powerful, "Once Were Warriors" is a critically acclaimed must see for anyone into serious human drama. (A)

33 of 40 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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