- X 2019
The Dead Lands
New Zealand / UK 2014
Matthew Metcalfe, Glenn Standring, Andrew Boswell (executive) for General Film Corporation
directed by Toa Fraser
starring James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare, To Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan, Raukura Turei, George Henare, Rena Owen, Pana Hema Taylor, Calvin Tuteao, Jamus Webster, Bianca Hyslop, Isabella Rakete, Matariki Whatarau, Wairangi Koopu, Jeff Ruha, Kani Collier, Te Manahau Morrison, Mere Boynton, Maria Walker, Ria Paki, Taupunakohe Tocker, Thomas Kiwi, Tori Marsh, Antonio Te Maioha, Kimo Houltham, Ngarino Watt, Rob Williams, Eds Eramiha, Siosa Fonua, Stephen Grey, Jeremy Hollis, Nooroa Poa
written by Glenn Standring, stunt coordinator: Steve McQuillan, visual effects by George Zwier
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New Zealand, long long ago: Due to treachery, the whole tribe of Hongi
(James Rolleston) is killed by the warriors of Wirepa (Te Kohe Tuhaka),
ambitious son of the chieftain of his tribe who caused the massacre mainly
to win honour. Hongi, a chieftain's son as well, knows he has to avenge
the death of those he loved ... but while Wirepa is a great fighter
surrounded by his men, Hongi is not much of a warrior, merely a boy of not
yet 16 years of age. But he crosses over in the spirit world to confer
with his long dead grandmother (Rena Owen) and learns Wirepa and his men
are crossing the taboo Dead Lands to arrive at their tribe all the sooner,
and the Dead Lands are protected by a cannibalistic demon. So Hongi tracks
down the Demon (Lawrence Makoare), who's actually just a mountain of a man
and a mighty warrior, who has once lost his own tribe like Hongi, and out
of the anger over this he turned into a vicious killer and cannibal, and
that coupled with fighting and strategic skills, and lilmitless courage
and self confidence ultimately turned him into a legend. But something in
Hongi touches him, so instead of just killing and eating him (which would
be an easy task to do), he not only trains him as a warrior but also
promises to help him track down and kill Wirepa and his men.
first attack, the Demon kills about half of Wirepa's braves, and when he's
struck down by a spear, Hongi manages to save his life and chase the rest
of Wirepa's men away, the moment of surprise on his side.
on the run, Wirepa's courage begins to diminish, and some of his men turn
against him - which leads to a few executions, even. Finally they find an
abandoned fortress though they think they can use to defend against the
Demon and Hongi - which soon turns into a bad idea when the two of them
put the fortress uinder siege, and water and food become scarce inside.
But Wirepa's not beaten yet, and he makes up a devillish plan to divide
Hongi and the Demon and lure each of them into a death trap ...
Maori historical about war, honour and revenge, with a mythological
dimension woven into the story, The Dead Lands is above all else
one thing: A very powerful movie. The film is based on a very
well-written, stringent script that really pushes things forward
throughout and immerses the audience in the Maori world without trying to
explain too much away and instead putting its trust into interesting
characters and a universally understandable story. Now add to that an
exciting narrative pace and directorial effort, great action scenes that
feel raw and well-staged at the same time, a great cast and last but not
least wonderful location work, and you've got yourself a rather excellent
Totally worth your time!