273 user 54 critic

Once Were Warriors (1994)

R | | Crime, Drama | 3 March 1995 (USA)
2:07 | Trailer

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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.



, (novel)
4,829 ( 561)
22 wins & 6 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)


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


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?


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 »


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 »


Beth Heke: You raped a 13 year old girl and sat here drinking with her father while the rest of us buried her!
Bully: You should learn to control your Missus.
Beth Heke: Sneaking around the house laying your filthy fucking hands on my baby!
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


Featured in Reel Injun (2009) 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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