Once Were Warriors 1994

Once Were Warriors

Critics Consensus

Once Were Warriors isn't an easy watch, but the raw power of its story -- and the performances of an excellent cast -- reward viewers who rise to the challenge.

93%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 45

95%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 29,690

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Movie Info

An unemployed Maori living in the Auckland slums, Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison) has a terrible temper that he takes out on family and strangers alike. His wife, Beth (Rena Owen), takes regular beatings after he's been at the pub, and his kids do what they can to sidestep trouble. Nig (Julian Arahanga), the eldest, is joining a street gang; Boogie (Taungaroa Emile) has been placed in a foster home; and Grace increasingly retreats to the pages of her journal.

Cast & Crew

Rena Owen
Beth Heke
Shannon Williams
Toot
Pete Smith
Dooley
Alan Duff
Writer
Murray Grindlay
Original Music
Murray McNabb
Original Music
Stuart Dryburgh
Cinematographer
Michael Horton
Film Editor
Michael Kane
Production Design
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News & Interviews for Once Were Warriors

Critic Reviews for Once Were Warriors

All Critics (45) | Top Critics (17) | Fresh (42) | Rotten (3)

  • Once Were Warriors has more to say than the traditional TV-movie about spousal abuse. But some viewers will have to pay a price: This is a movie that requires strength and fortitude to sit through.

    February 21, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell, who plays Grace, had never acted before, and neither have a couple of the other key players. But under the careful direction of television veteran Lee Tamahori, they all do credible and forceful work.

    February 21, 2017 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • A gritty, powerful first feature by Lee Tamahori.

    February 21, 2017 | Full Review…
  • The howling raging energy of the prize-winning New Zealand film Once Were Warriors rushes at you, hits you like a smack in the face.

    February 21, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • The violence in Once Were Warriors (Fine Line, R), a tumultuous domestic drama from New Zealand, erupts with terrifying suddenness.

    September 7, 2011 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
  • The barren lives of members of an urban Maori family are rigorously exposed in this rugged and painful picture, based on Alan Duff's novel.

    July 22, 2008

    David Stratton

    Variety
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Once Were Warriors

  • May 27, 2013
    Believe it or not, there is a Tamahori film that can be considered as "worth watching". Its main problem was its constant shifting from a Van Damme / Seagal punch flick to a disturbing flick about a destroyed family and domestic violence to a sentimental movie of an universal appeal. True that it wants to make statements but it may be easy for the viewer to get confused with the mixed bag. This film brought back some personal past life memories... 74/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2013
    [img]http://images.rottentomatoes.com/images/user/icons/icon14.gif[/img]
    Directors C Super Reviewer
  • Aug 08, 2012
    A powerful story of love, loss, violence and cultural awakenings. Not for the faint hearted, this film contains some of the most extreme scenes of domestic abuse I've witnessed. Compelling stuff!!!
    Graham W Super Reviewer
  • Feb 06, 2012
    An attempt to recapture spirit by down and out Maori youths. Inspiring and real.
    John B Super Reviewer

Once Were Warriors Quotes

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