Customer Reviews


210 Reviews
5 star:
 (150)
4 star:
 (28)
3 star:
 (7)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (24)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb acting and a point well made
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...
Published on February 9, 2000 by takintime

versus
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible transfer. wait for the US release
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...
Published on November 24, 2001 by enea ceku


‹ Previous | 1 221 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

57 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb acting and a point well made, February 9, 2000
By 
"takintime" (Raleigh, NC USA) - See all my reviews
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."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An astonishingly powerful film!, October 16, 2001
By 
Chapulina R (Tovarischi Imports, USA/RUS) - See all my reviews
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!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reclaiming The Past, April 18, 2005
This review is from: Once Were Warriors (DVD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Therapeutic., April 8, 2005
This review is from: Once Were Warriors (DVD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars horrible transfer. wait for the US release, November 24, 2001
By 
enea ceku (lynn, ma USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Once Were Warriors [IMPORT] (DVD)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie - Bad DVD!!, February 11, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Once Were Warriors [IMPORT] (DVD)
Enough has already been said about this movie in past reviews, so I'll focus of the DVD quality.
This Hong Kong import has the worst transfer I've ever seen. With no features or even a root menu, you may as well be watching the VHS version or a lousy VCD transfer. Plus, as other reviewers have noted, you cannot turn off the subtitles.
There is another region 1 edition of this DVD available in Canada, which is much better. While the sound and picture quality are still not perfect, it's at least watchable. There are a few features including a short featurette (an interview with the cast), trailers, and the standard biography/filmography. Plus it has a much nicer cover (same as the soundtrack). It was released by a Montreal company called Séville, and I think you can purchase it at most Canadian online retailers (try A&B Sound).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Please don't think that this IS Maori culture, September 3, 2007
By 
This review is from: Once Were Warriors (DVD)
In reading reviews on Once Were Warriors, most written by Americans, I fear that many believe this to be a true depiction of Maori life in NZ.
However, whilst this film shows a gritty, dirty, dangerous side to Maori culture in NZ it is not the kind of life that all Maori lead. I have numerous Maori friends, among them a doctor, a lawyer, a sales executive and hard working tradesmen, who value their family among all else. Please know that although this film does portray a kind of gangland you would see in South Central LA it is not the kind of life most Maori lead. In saying that, I do not wish to take away from that fact that the scenes shown in this film are a reality for many Maori too...and this kind of poverty and gang violence is an ongoing issue in NZ. What I like about the film is that it shows the kind of poverty and socio-economic problems evident in ALL societies - a common theme in all countries that is not solely about race.
Regards,
A New Zealander (who knows South Auckland quite well)
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Story For An International Audience, December 6, 2002
I fell deeply sorry for anyone who must put up with whats sounds like an absolutely terrible DVD transfer of the film. If anyone comes to New Zealand, you can pick up a perfect widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital version with features such as cast interviews, music videos, trailers, Director's commentry and no annoying subtitles. Once Were Warriors tells a story that can be translated into any language yet have the same impact. Domestic violence is the topic of this brutal film from acclaimed New Zealand director Lee Tamahori. Considering I come from New Zealand myself, I can not get the point across strongly enough that New Zealand is a beautiful country and the scenes in the film only portrayed a small portion of how NZ was in 1995 when the movie was set. For a real view on how my country is, take a look at the scenery of 'The Lord Of The Rings' from another visionary NZ director, Peter Jackson.
Once Were Warriors follows a Maori family living at the bottom of the economic pool. There is Beth, the mother of four children. The eldest son Nick, has become estranged from the family and joined a gang because of his hatred for his abusive father, Jake. Next is the smart and beautiful 13 year old Grace stuck in a life that is far from fit for her. Mark, the second eldest boy has made friends with local thieves and spends most of his time on the streets, so he gets sent off to Social Welfare. The youngest boy gets the least screen time of the children.
Temuera Morrison's portrayal of 'Jake the Muss' is done with fire in his eyes. Originally it was believed that he was not right for the part, but he proved them wrong. His acting and Rena Owen's (Beth) pushed the boundaries of acting and reality. The film came away with 12 International Awards. To tell you the truth, it should be been given Oscars. Another star who should not go without credit is Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell who plays Grace. She did an amazing job for her first acting role.
Well worth buying this film. It will shock you no matter how many times it is viewed, but in a good way that makes you think. >Enjoy<
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great movie - but its not 100% real, August 2, 1999
By A Customer
To the reviewer who stated that Maori and Native Americans have a lot in common - its not as much as you think.
The Maori tribes in New Zealand have several billion dollars worth of assets, exclusive fishing rights to many coastal waters and are serious land owners. This movie depicts the plight of urban (mostly tribeless) Maori, whose situation is largely the fault of other Maori - note the comments about Jake being descended from slaves. American audiences may misconstrue this line - his forbears were slaves of the Maori tribes that had conquered them and stolen their lands, not of the white (Pakeha) settlers.
Maori make up more than 10% of the NZ population and are well-represented in parliament - they still have great social problems, but their culture is greatly respected by, and an important part of New Zealand society - don't try to map the American Experience to NZ - its very very different.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Maori urban life that New Zealand tourists never see., August 9, 2004
In a film so hard-hitting that the viewer actually feels battered by the time it reaches its conclusion, a Maori family with five children must deal with urban violence, poverty, drugs, alcoholism, unemployment, gang warfare, rape, physical and mental abuse, suicide, and a host of other horrific family problems, all shown graphically. Beth and Jake Heke and their five children, along with numerous other Maori families, live in an urban ghetto of government-supported housing, isolated from the rest of society and isolated, too, from their old rural culture, which once gave pride and a sense of identity to Maori families. Here in the city the prevailing "culture" centers around bars, rather than the ancient meeting houses.

Beth Heke (Rena Owen), the mother, loves her violent husband Jake (Temuera Morrison), despite his abuse of her when he is drunk, and she cares deeply about her children, but she is powerless to protect them or herself from Jake's rages. The oldest son (Julian Arahanga) is part of a street gang which covers their faces in traditional tattoos and uses their own violence for protection against others. Their sensitive second son Boogie (Taungaroa Emile) has been arrested for associating with car thieves. Most touching, however, is Gracie (unforgettably played by Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell), a thirteen-year-old beauty who is trying to lead a good life without any good examples to follow. Pathetically, she and the two youngest children are forced to "grow up early," accepting the horrors of their lives as "normal," while they try to survive any way they can.

The bold, raw language of Alan Duff's novel of the same name becomes part of Riwia Brown's script, and Lee Tamahori's direction brings this powerful, absorbing, and overwhelming story of human misery to life. Tamahori uses contrasts throughout to emphasize the themes and the differences between contemporary Maori urban life and traditional Maori culture. He uses haunting Maori music to begin the film, then switches to scenes of rap and rock, he alternates quiet visions of a Maori village with loud bar activity, he shows the sweetness of Gracie against the grim living conditions of her best friend Toot (Shannon Williams), and illustrates throughout Jake's violence in contrast to the family's need for calmer, more focused lives. The cinematography, too, emphasizes the contrasts, though most viewers will be too focused on the overwhelming emotionalism of the scenes to notice. Though I loved the book, I found the film even better--the characters as acted here are much more heart-wrenching than I ever could have imagined. Mary Whipple
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 221 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Once Were Warriors
Once Were Warriors by Lee Tamahori (DVD)
Used & New from: $3.52
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.