The Dead Lands (2014)
Starring: James Rolleston, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Lawrence Makoare, Xavier Horan,
Plot: Product Description: Hongi a Maori chieftain's teenage son - must avenge his father's murder in order to bring peace and honor to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains, led by Wirepa. Hongi's only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious "Warrior", a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
My Review and Thoughts:
Brutal savagery. Historical. Vicious and perfectly intense. The fights are a spectacular imagery of adrenaline. A film with beautiful, breathtaking cinematography by Leon Narbey.
A peaceful Maori tribe is attacked by blood thirsty warriors that want glory. A war tribe led by Wirepa, comes to the Maori tribe. Wirepa defiles the bones of the ancestors. Wirepa and his warriors brutally slaughter the tribe. The Chiefs son, the only male that remains is Hongi. He takes it upon himself to avenge his tribe. He seeks the help of a warrior known as the Monster of the Dead Lands. The Monster is a cursed man who eats and feeds off the flesh of his victims. The monsters woman, persuades him to help Hongi, in case the act will favor him in death, and take the curse away. Hongi and the warrior become partners in a quest to avenge Hongi’s tribe.
The Choreographed fights are utter brilliance. A great plot of warriors, ancient cultures, and unique beliefs. Amazingly authentic. The film seems real. The film places you into a time period, hundreds of years ago. An historical journey that lets you experience the brutality and cultural honors of the past.
What needs to be written about this movie is the phenomenal acting by all. James Rolleston was amazing as your main lead character, Hongi. I see a bright future for this actor. What a role. He gave his all, and so much more. This is his third feature length film as of this writing. He brought to life the character of Hongi in a truly believable reality. A gifted young man. Amazing.
The true shining star of this film is Lawrence Makoare, who plays the cursed warrior known as the monster. What an extraordinary performance. He gave an in-depth emotional reality, and an execution to this disturbing, yet soulful character. A complex journey of actions that lead you the viewer into a wonderful, flawless, award worthy role that leaves, or at least, left me breathless. Lawrence Makoare is amazing.
The whole cast just bleeds perfection. Te Kohe Tuhaka plays the baddie Wirepa. Tuhaka skills in acting, has no flaw whatsoever. Also I have to mention Xavier Horan who plays Rangi. Rangi is like Wirepa's right hand man. Horan makes you believe his character. His emotional reactions, and his bad ass thuggery in fights, makes his part golden.
This New Zealand film is what great cinema is about. This is what filmmaking should be. Original, deep, brutal, emotional, action packed. The direction by Toa Fraser is what directors should strive to capture. Gifted at the eye, in capturing on screen everything the film needed to be.
I cannot, not mention the utterly edge of your seat fights, and stunts. Accolades all around in this reality.
Huge shootouts to the art department and costume design. Barbara Darragh and Naomi Campbell and all those involved in making this film believable and striking in the imagery through costumes and the beauty of art is utterly serene.
A worthy film to experience over and over again.