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Once Were Warriors (1995)

Rena Owen , Temuera Morrison , Lee Tamahori  |  R |  DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)

Price: $49.99 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Product Details

  • Actors: Rena Owen, Temuera Morrison, Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell, Julian Arahanga, Taungaroa Emile
  • Directors: Lee Tamahori
  • Writers: Alan Duff, Riwia Brown
  • Producers: Robin Scholes
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English, Maori
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: New Line Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: September 2, 2003
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (210 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A02Y4
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,968 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Once Were Warriors" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

An urban Maori family deals with great difficulties in adjusting to normalcy in urban New Zealand.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb acting and a point well made February 9, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
It isn't hard to see why this movie garnered so many kudos after its release. The acting is superb. (Note: Temeura Morrison later stated that he was "scarred" for quite a while emotionally and mentally after playing Jake.) The unexcelled acting in AND the directing of this film, in this viewer's opinion, show the exact nature of family violence more clearly than other presentation in any media ever has. At first I was unwilling to see another film dealing with the subject, especially since I the results of domestic violence almost daily on my job. Now I say that if you watch only one film on the matter in your life, make it this one. For an American viewer, the fact that all the action takes place in Auckland, New Zealand helps give the distance needed for an honest perspective on the theme. Then the highly skilled actors (may we see more of all of them!)play the story out as it happens to thousands of families all over the world, totally stripping domestic violence of any excuse to be. By the heart-rending and horrific end of the movie there can be no doubt in anyone's mind that neither substance abuse, cultural conditioning, disenfranchised cultures, poverty nor a host of other things often invoked as "reasons" justify turning one's household into a war zone. Most family violence perpetrators are not hardcore psychopaths; they are "Jakes", and they have no excuse for what they do to their families. A beautiful film that makes its point without resulting to melodrama and sensationalism. It's a credit to all involved with the production that we look in on the lives of one family in crisis and realize, knowing that this scene is repeated thousands of time daily worldwide, the ultimate devastation brought about by "routine" family violence. A brilliant presentation. A "must see."
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishingly powerful film! October 16, 2001
Format:VHS Tape
Set in New Zealand, this excellent film portrays a small urban subculture of disenfranchized Maori, focusing on one disfunctional family. All the characters are compelling. There's Jake, the hard-drinking, brawling husband, always bitterly aware that he comes from a long line of slaves. And Beth, his full-blooded Maori wife, from a royal tribal line. Their sons: Boogie, ward of the court and sentenced to a Maori-centric boys' home; and Nig, prospecting for membership in an urban tribal gang. There's Grace, their sensitive 13-year-old daughter, who writes fanciful stories for her younger siblings and a homeless boy who lives in a car. And there are Jake's party-buddies, his beloved extended "family" -- "uncles" to his kids. The accents, ethnic traditions, martial arts, and particularly the facial tattooing of the Toa will appear "exotic" to the American audience. But the alcoholism, unemployment, domestic violence, teen delinquency, and child abuse are themes common anywhere. These subjects are presented with compassion. You'll come to genuinely care for all the characters. Even for Jake who, despite his brutality, is a tragic human being. I highly recommend "Once Were Warriors". The soundtrack alone will blow you away. The performances by all the actors are extraordinary and the ending will leave you breathless. Don't miss this one!
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reclaiming The Past April 18, 2005
Gripping, heartfelt drama about a dysfunctional Maori family struggling for survival in the government provided urban housing project (i.e. slums) of New Zealand. This is a violent, hardhitting film. Fortunately the story ultimately transcends the violence and offers some hope for a brighter tomorrow. 'Once Were Warriors' is a story of reconnecting with one's heritage and rediscovering who you are and what you can become.

Three other excellent movies dealing with the same theme of failed assimilation and destruction of indigenous cultures are: 'Where the Green Ants Dream', 'The Fringe Dwellers' (DVD - Region 4 only) and 'Rabbit-Proof Fence.' All three are Australian films dealing with the plight of the Aborigine.

I would also recommend Emerald Forest (DVD) which deals with tribes living within the tropical rainforests of South America.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Therapeutic. April 8, 2005
I worked in a home for teenage boys who had substance abuse problems, I wanted to show this film to them. Other counselors were strongly opposed to this idea. I chose to show it anyway, with a thourough warning and disclaimer to the kids about the intensity level and violence. I showed them this film and they were totally entranced by it, it provoked emotional responses from boys who have had to construct a wall of toughness around them to deal with their situations.

After the film we had one of the most intense and active discussions I have ever had with teenage boys. They saw elements of their own lives in this film and it allowed them to open up about the difficulties they faced. One guy even revealed something that he has never had the courage to reveal about his personal situation. True art elicits true emotions.

I can not give high enough praises for all those involved in the production of this film.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible transfer. wait for the US release November 24, 2001
I love this movie and am so surprised that no one is putting together a decent package together for it. i mean, it's such a brilliant film that an edition like this should not be allowed to see the light of day. the sound is in mono, the picture has cutts and dust all over. too dark at times. where is Criterion when you need them. you're better off buying the vhs edition. way better. this edition does no justice to what Tamahori intended us to see. avoid it (...). a rippoff in every sense.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic movie
The kind of movie that brings previous generations up to speed and hopefully make differences in male thinking going fwd.
Published 5 days ago by PINKY
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I liked this film so much that I bought the DVD for each of my children. There is a lot of violence which is always difficult for me but the total story is worth enduing the... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Eloise B. Peterson
3.0 out of 5 stars For my class
The movie was intense - I would not have watched it if it wasn't a requirement for my class. Very disturbing.
Published 1 month ago by Maureen B. Mauri
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and moving story about nowadays Maori people's problems....
The book gives an insight in the complex problems many Maoris have to face in modern New Zealand and tries to point out the underlying causes. Read more
Published 1 month ago by brok
1.0 out of 5 stars Movie Mars STAY AWAY
This company is very unprofessional and the contact to resolve things is extremely lacking. Amazon offers not help either. This is a region II move and unlike Costco in the U.S. Read more
Published 1 month ago by A. Black
5.0 out of 5 stars I finally found!!!
Great video easy to see. I have been looking for this video for awhile. I was so happy to have found.A very sad movie but a lesson to learn.
Published 2 months ago by Chellechelle
5.0 out of 5 stars Being it is used, you would not know it was....... Perfect
Why buy full price for a movie you like to have in your home, when a used one is still the same picture, but with a much cheaper price.
Published 2 months ago by Eva
1.0 out of 5 stars Stuck with incompatible DVD
I wasn't aware that region 2 movies could not be played in the US. Since I ordered from Amazon in US, I didn't foresee this problem. I guess you learn as you go.
Published 3 months ago by TNT
5.0 out of 5 stars "I wear my tatoos on the inside"
A brilliant, sometimes disturbing, classic of the brutality, love and pride among the Maori of modern day New Zealand. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mark Anderson
1.0 out of 5 stars both dvds is not able to use in America , totally only NEW ZEALAND...
its in format no able to play in USA ; the dvds is no use to me its no good in america made for NewZealand dvd players both dvds from New Zealand
Published 5 months ago by xerolybe Brown
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