Once Were Warriors is a film that will never leave you after viewing. It is the archetypal slice of life we can be educated from that only cinema can deliver so concisely. Is is often lorded as the most prolific examination of the Maori people and their confliction between traditional beliefs, traditions and behaviour and the reality of the modern world and family, but it is much more than that. It is hands down one of the most harrowing tales of domestic violence, and elicits a power which challenges and provokes.
The story is told on its own footing, with New Zealand production, direction and acting, and you really feel this sense of authenticity. It has a passion and intimacy with its subject matter than other films crave but cannot recreate.
The raw subject matter is complemented with straightforward, unflashy direction. The plot tackles many issues of family, growth, loyalty, responsibility and dissects them with a strong soul. The acting is one of the most amazing accomplishments of antipodean cinema. Temeura Morrision gaves one of the most incredible performances of modern cinema as Jake the Muss. His primeaval power on screen lights up the entire picture, while the subtlety, gutsy performances of Owen and Kerr-Bell add all the more pain and challenge upon its truely sad conclusion.
Its a must see picture, enjoyable on all levels is has both conscience and intelligence with its ferocity.