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Once Were Warriors

This is one of the first real, New Zealand made world wide hits.


In a violent relationship, it takes a mother's strength to save herself and her children from the man she loved.

ONCE WERE WARRIORS is a violent love story set against a contemporary urban backdrop.
Eighteen years after Jake and Beth Heke married in the first flush of teenage love, it's easy to see why Beth found him irresistible. Jake is a muscular handsome man who exudes an explosive sexual energy. Even now, five kids later, he can still arouse Beth with one look.

But Jake now spends most of his time at the pub proving his manhood with his fists. And if Beth ansers back, she's likely to get the same treatment.

But Beth's a survivor. It will take more than a few knocks to conquer her spirit and besides, she's still deeply in love with Jake.

At home, Beth struggles to keep the family together but the violence is taking its toll. One son has joined a gang, the next has been taken into welfare. Still untouched is Grace, the beautiful teenage daughter, a gifted writer and thinker who embodies Beth's own hope for a better future.

Tragically, Grace's special gifts set her apart form her tough urban surroundings and make her the most vulnerable memeber of her family. She's destined to be cut down before she's had a chance to mature.

While the loss of Grace is the worst tragedy Beth can imagine, it is also the very thing which turns her own life around for the better. Forced to make a choice - her man or her family - Beth finds the strength to seek a new alternative.

About the movie

The Auckland production company Communicado bought the rights to Alan Duff's novel Once Were Warriors almost immediately after it was published in 1990 because it was exactly the type of story the company wanted to make its first feature, explains the film's producer Robin Scholes. The book then went on to become a New Zealand best seller.

Once Were Warriors appealed because its story was contemporary , urban and controversial, says Robin Scholes. To my mind the history of New Zealand films contained too many polite stories which were distanced from everyday life.

Once Were Warriors contained wonderful, vibrant characters I could identify with. They weren't polite. They drank, sang, loved and hit one another. It was a gutsy passionate story, the kind of story which would make its audience weep and laugh and feel involved with the characters.

Communicado was almost five years old at that stage and had built a solid business from television and video production. According to Scholes, we were ready to fulfil our long term ambition to move in to feature film production.

For more detailed information about this movie or any other New Zealand film please go to the New Zealand Film Commission

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