Once Were Warriors [1994]

Genre: Crime, Drama
New Zealand filmmaker Lee Tamahori (The Edge) directed this brutal but powerful story drawn from the culture of poverty and alienation enveloping contemporary Maori life. Rena Owen plays the beleaguered mother of two boys--one of whom is already in prison while the other contemplates membership in a gang--and a daughter whose potential is being smothered at home. Temuera Morrison gives an outstanding and sometimes shocking performance as the violent head of the household, more adept at keeping up his social stature within his community of friends than holding down a job. The film pulls no punches, literally and figuratively, but despite the rough going, Tamahori gives us a rare and important insight into a disenfranchised people digging down deep to find their pride. --Tom Keogh

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