World cinema classics #32


Once Were Warriors (1994) – Lee Tamahori

excuse the Italian dub

Once Were Warriors is 1994 film based on New Zealand author Alan Duff‘s bestselling 1990 first novel of the same name. The film tells the story of an urban Māori family, the Hekes, and their problems with poverty, alcoholism, and domestic violence, mostly brought on by the family patriarch Jake Heke. It was directed by Lee Tamahori, and stars Rena Owen and Temuera Morrison.

Previous “World Cinema Classics” and in the Wiki format here.

15 thoughts on “World cinema classics #32

  1. nursemyra

    this is a sensational film, one of the best nz films ever. can’t quite get my head around it with the italian dubbing though

    I hope your post persuades more people to seek this gem out.

    (admiring your taste more than ever)

  2. jahsonic

    Thanks for adding that, I feel I should have stressed more how totally devastated I had been by seeing this social realist drama about a violent patriarch.

    Here is an English language excerpt.

    Thanks for the compliment too, I really appreciate it, I just knew you would have seen the film, your tastes can rival mine, I’m sure.

    Hugs and kisses from Belgium.


  3. nursemyra

    but it’s still dubbed. the accent is SO wrong. would it have been released that way for the USA market?

    it’s a hideously violent scene though his anger is understandable when you know what went before it.

    it’s the scene where he beats his wife that is really reprehensible.

    from an aethetic point of view I love the Maori mokos. what’s your feeling on them?

  4. Rafaela

    Nursemyra, ‘his anger is understandable’! That would be then the only passage in the movie! Anyway, terribly wrong way to express his anger. Very sad version of beauty and the beast, this one…

  5. jahsonic


    I’m not very much into tattoos, but the ones I do love are Japanese carpet-tattoos.

    I’m not quite sure is I saw Warriors in the American dubbed version or the original one, I suspect the original one, I understand your frustration with regards to the dubbing.


    I’m surprised about how much you remember about this film. Though its content was perhaps reprehensible, we all agree I think it was a very powerful film.


  6. nursemyra

    did I express that badly? in no way am I condoning what jake heke does, violence is deplorable.

    *spoiler alert*

    what I meant was if a guest in your home had raped your teenage daughter and she consequently hung herself, then it would be normal to FEEL immense anger. how he expressed his anger is a totally differnet matter.

    rafaela, sorry if I was unclear in my meaning

  7. Rafaela

    Dear nurse,

    Nothing to worry about, though the fragment presented here is situated at te very begin of the movie I thought, and his anger is his reaction on the fact that she rejects his urge to have sex, following the fact that he is sacked.

    Moreover, there are plenty of situations to be angry about in this movie (concerning his kids) but that just seem to be the moments at which he is as apathetic as possible. When anger is reasonable, he is indifferent. When he is angry, the reasons are mostly minor, trivial causes.

    To me that is the tragedy of this man. And – in a way – his indifference appears much more violent to me than all of his boxing and screaming.

  8. nursemyra

    aha! now I see where the confusion arose. I was referring to the second link that jahsonic posted – the scene in the bar where he beats the rapist.

    you’ve made some very interesting observations, rafaela. makes me want to rewatch the film

  9. jahsonic

    Nurse, Rafaela,

    I am really glad you met each other. It looks like you would probably get along in real life, or in any case, that you would know what to talk about.


  10. jahsonic

    If I were as good a writer as you two are, I would know what to say. As it is, I am speechless, but I admit, flattered.

    The “king of dirt” is probably Georges Bataille.


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