Once Were Warriors is the first film of fantastic director Lee Tamahori. Now we can say that his debut was absolutely successful. The story based on the well-written novel by New Zealand author Allan Duff. The story is set in Auckland, in New Zealand of the late 80s. It’s very difficult to tell in couple words what this film is about. Nevertheless, we can say that Lee Tamahori’s film is about family, about strong spirit of the people and domestic abuse. Once Were Warriors touches upon a lot of important issues.
The film tells us the story of the Heke family. Heke parents are both Maori but their origin is quite different. Jake Heke is the head of the family. He is also known as "Jake the Muss" because of his character and behavior. He is of Maori slave descent and he feels offended about his origin. Jake has lost another job and is spending more time at the bar with his friends. His wife Beth who has lived with him for 18 years is the former princess of Maori rulers clan. They are both good-looking people and sometimes they are even happy together. They have four children together. In this fantastic film, we can see Jake and Beth in good and bad times. Beth and Jake sing songs, flirt and make love. Nevertheless, at the same time Jake at any moment could turn to a brutal monster. As the result of this metamorphosis, Beth wakes up one morning with her face a bloody mass of bruises. Jake beats Beth so viciously that she can't go to a hearing the next day for one of her sons. Her son Boogie is sent away to a home for juvenile delinquents. Beth thinks that it is her fault because she had to keep her mouth shut. Nevertheless, during the film she will stop blaming.
If we look closer, we will see that this family has lots of problems that nobody wants to solve. The eldest son Nig can’t stand his father and finally leaves home to join a gang of local criminals to prove his manhood and to escape from Jake. Only 13 years old, Grace helps her mother all the time. Grace is a ray of light in this kingdom of poorness and violence. Grace has a talent to write stories and wants her mother to walk away from Jake Heke. Unfortunately, nothing can protect Grace from violence in her house.
Once Were Warriors has broken all box office records in New Zealand. It is a really outstanding film. This mesmerizing film speaks volumes about the way besieged tribes of indigenous peoples have turned their rage inward in acts of self-destruction. The film perfectly shows problems of Maori people in New Zealand.
Once Were Warriors is the first film of fantastic director Lee Tamahori. Now we can say that his debut was absolutely successful. The story based on the well-written novel by New Zealand author Allan Duff. The story is set in Auckland, in New Zealand of the late 80s. It’s very difficult to tell in couple words what this film is about.