Actor Wayne Hapi who played "Ariki" had no previous acting experience before his debut in 'The Dark Horse', however as an ex gang-member he did have direct experience with the film's content. Wayne applied for an audition via email after Casting Director Yvette Reid placed a job listing at WINZ "seeking Maori Men aged 50-65yrs, tattoos and criminal records welcome!". Wayne was honoured with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the 2014 New Zealand Film awards. See more »
In a chess lesson, Genesis identifies the square c4 as "the Spanish square" and b5 as "the Italian square." These are the squares to which white moves the king's bishop on the third move of the Giuoco Piano, or Italian Game, and the Ruy Lopez, or Spanish Game, respectively; he's got them backward. See more »
This film easily ranks as one of the 3-4 greatest films to come out of New Zealand for me.
NZ film has produced some powerful drama over the years, particularly films like Whale Rider, Once Were Warriors and The Piano. IMO, The Dark Horse stands shoulder-to-shoulder with all those and actually exceeds them in some regards.
It's not an easy watch at times, there were moments I felt myself almost having to turn away from the screen... The tension is pretty relentless during periods, and I actually felt exhausted by the end.
But there was also plenty of genuine laugh out loud humour littered throughout, which balanced it all out nicely.
And boy was I glad for the experience. I actually had moments of not wanting to laugh because I was worried it would start me crying...! It was pointless... I ended up doing plenty of both in the end.
An instant NZ classic. Bravo to the filmmakers.
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