Once Were Warriors
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This powerful drama was a major hit in its native New Zealand, outgrossing Jurassic Park in Kiwi cinemas. Jake and Beth Heke (Temurea Morrison and Rena Owen) are a couple of Maori descent who are living in a slum in Aukland. While it's obvious that they still love each other, Jake's alcoholism has driven a wedge into their relationship and has left their children emotionally scarred. Jake is charming while sober, but when drunk, he's a violent psychopath given to blink-of-an-eye mood changes and terrible cruelty against his loved ones. Liquor has also made it difficult for Jake to… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 94%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"A gut-grabber from New Zealand ... that stays with you for days."
‑ Edward Guthmann, San Francisco Chronicle
"Yet familiar as the pattern is ... the film holds because of the acting and because it functions as travelogue."
‑ Stanley Kauffmann, The New Republic
"Overrated and nauseating."
‑ Cole Smithey, ColeSmithey.com
"One of the year's best films. Totally unforgettable."
‑ Clint Morris, Moviehole
"It is a painful and very effective tale about the destructive power of abuse, rape, alcoholism, and violence in general that easily transcends its New Zealand origin."
‑ Christopher Null, Filmcritic.com
"As often happens when films are intent on getting a message across, Once Were Warriors can't stop itself from overdoing things."
‑ Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
"It is powerful and chilling, and directed by Lee Tamahori with such narrative momentum that we are swept along in the enveloping tragedy of the family's life."
‑ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"Packed with bloody raw emotion."
‑ Dennis Schwartz, Ozus' World Movie Reviews
"Speaks volumes about the self-destructiveness of peoples who have turned their rage inward."
‑ Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice
"Heartbreaking, frustrating, an observation of domestic violence and a tribute to the wives who ultimately refuse to remain victims."
‑ Chris Hicks, Deseret News, Salt Lake City
"Works, to some degree, on three levels: the visceral, the emotional, and the intellectual, and it is the amalgamation of these that makes this a memorable film."
‑ James Berardinelli, ReelViews
"One of the most powerful, ultra-realistic dramas about domestic violence--As the battered wife, Rena Welson should have received a Best Actress nomination."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Excellent performances in this New Zealand import"
‑ Jon Niccum, Lawrence Journal-World
"It is an impressive first feature for its director, Lee Tamahori, and a splendid dramatic vehicle for its stars, especially Rena Owen."
‑ David Armstrong, San Francisco Examiner
"The film's searing performances are matched by the lovely camerawork of cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh."
‑ Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
More reviews for Once Were Warriors on Rotten Tomatoes

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