08th Jun2015

‘The Dead Lands’ DVD Review

by Richard Axtell

Stars: James Rolleston, Lawrence Makoare, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan, Raukura Turei, George Henare, Rena Owen, Pana Hema Taylor, Calvin Tuteao, Jamus Webster, Bianca Hyslop, Isabella Rakete, Matariki Whatarau, Wairangi Koopu, Jeff Ruha | Written by Glenn Standring | Directed by Toa Fraser


Hongi (James Rolleston) – a Māori chieftain’s teenage son – must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honour 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 (Te Kohe Tuhaka), Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior” (Lawrence Makoare), a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.

I actually found The Dead Lands really entertaining. Not only is the film filled to the brim with crazy Māori fight sequences which look brutal and realistic, but I felt the characters that we follow on the journey of the film were all really strong as well. Particularly in the case of Wirepa, the film’s villain, who has got the ‘arrogant smirk’ down to an art form (you will no doubt find yourself wanting to stab him just as much as Hongi does). The mysterious “Warrior” really fulfils his role as a scary badass as well. Seen as a demon by most, he is a snarling, growling, violent death-machine. You will definitely see that he is not the kind of person you want to invite him around your house for Sunday lunch any time soon.

Now, obviously, I am not saying that The Dead Lands is an accurate portrayal of Māori culture (mainly because I have no idea what Māori culture is like) but the interactions between the characters and the general atmosphere of the whole story left me thinking I had just learnt a bunch of information about their customs. Don’t imagine this is a boring history lesson, though. All the cultural stuff is spaced nicely between dramatic fight sequences, enhancing the film and the story, and helping it stand out from the crowd.

Overall, The Dead Lands was a film that didn’t fail to impress. As story goes, it isn’t the most original, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying it. If you’re looking for an action movie about revenge with a tribal twist, this is a film you will want to add to your collection.

The Dead Lands is out now on DVD and VOD from ICON.


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