38 user 74 critic

The Dark Horse (2014)

1:49 | Trailer

Watch Now

With Prime Video

A brilliant but troubled New Zealand chess champion finds purpose by teaching underprivileged children about the rules of chess and life.
25 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Cliff Curtis ... Genesis
James Rolleston ... Mana
Kirk Torrance ... Noble
Miriama McDowell ... Sandy
Barry Te Hira Barry Te Hira ... Mutt
Xavier Horan ... Jedi
Wayne Hapi ... Ariki
Lyel Timu Lyel Timu ... Rangimarie
Te Ahorangi Retimana-Martin ... Rusty
Calae Hignett-Morgan Calae Hignett-Morgan ... Piripi
James Napier Robertson ... Dave
Te Rua Rehu-Martin Te Rua Rehu-Martin ... Murray
Niwa Whatuira Niwa Whatuira ... Michael
Lionel Wellington Lionel Wellington ... Rip
Wesley Broadfoot Wesley Broadfoot ... Nathan


A brilliant but troubled New Zealand chess champion finds purpose by teaching underprivileged children about the rules of chess and life.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Bravery is contagious See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language throughout, and drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | official site


New Zealand



Release Date:

20 November 2014 (Australia) See more »

Also Known As:

Genesis See more »

Filming Locations:

New Zealand See more »


Box Office


NZD 3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$8,487, 3 April 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$61,505, 1 May 2016

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,170,000, 30 May 2018
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


At the request of writer/director James Napier Robertson, actor Cliff Curtis gained almost 60 pounds and stayed in character for the entirety of the shoot to portray Genesis. 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 »


Genesis: [to Mana] Don't look back.
See more »


Referenced in Talking Dead: Fear the Walking Dead (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

16 June 2015 | by carstenwendlerSee all my reviews

I just had the chance to watch this movie at the Shanghai International Film Festival and I went in without knowing what I was getting into as the tickets were purchased for me and I was just tagging along.

Well, it could not have gone better. As a German, I only have a vague knowledge about the social problems that New Zealand is facing but that didn't matter at all. The acting was outstanding to the extend that Cliff Curtis will be on my radar from now on. The movie was beautifully shot and felt very close to reality.The story, which is biographical, brought tears to my eyes.

It revolves around an emotionally unstable Maori named Genesis who has spent a significant part of his life in a mental hospital and who happens to be somewhat of a chess genius. Genesis is granted the chance to leave the mental hospital under the condition that a family member will take care of him. His brother, who leads a vicious gang out in the New Zealand country site, as his last resort is more or less up for the duty and agrees to take him in. What Genesis lacks in social skill he makes up for with enthusiasm. Focused on staying positive to prevent another relapse, which would surely mean the end of his freedom, he joins a local chess club for troubled children and young adults. Genesis quickly breathes life into the club with his addictive enthusiasm and by being the living proof that you don't need a college degree to be smart.His character mesmerized me because he was simply modest, honest and wholehearted in an environment where people with these qualities don't really thrive.

All and all, a truly memorable experience, even if you are not very familiar with the culture in New Zealand!

21 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 38 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching

Stream Trending TV Series With Prime Video

Explore popular and recently added TV series available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial

Recently Viewed