7.9/10
29,642
285 user 60 critic

Once Were Warriors (1994)

R | | Crime, Drama | 3 March 1995 (USA)
Trailer
2:08 | Trailer

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Prime Video

ON DISC
A family descended from Maori warriors is bedeviled by a violent father and the societal problems of being treated as outcasts.

Director:

Lee Tamahori

Writers:

Riwia Brown, Alan Duff (novel)
Reviews
22 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

This sequel to the New Zealand-set drama "Once Were Warriors" revisits alcoholic Maori man Jake Heke (Temuera Morrison) and his wife, Beth (Rena Owen), who have separated, largely due to ... See full summary »

Director: Ian Mune
Stars: Temuera Morrison, Rena Owen, Clint Eruera
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  

Two inmates with dark pasts, journey into the world of hip-hop.

Director: Pale Christian Thomas
Stars: Charles Jarman, Kasey Ryne Mazak, Duane Patterson
Lone Star (1996)
Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

When the skeleton of his murdered predecessor is found, Sheriff Sam Deeds unearths many other long-buried secrets in his Texas border town.

Director: John Sayles
Stars: Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Peña, Stephen Mendillo
The Patriarch (2016)
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

From the author of "The Whale Rider", a tale of family rivalry and reconciliation, set against the stunning backdrop of rural New Zealand in the 1960s.

Director: Lee Tamahori
Stars: Temuera Morrison, Akuhata Keefe, Nancy Brunning
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A group of skinheads become alarmed at the way their neighbourhood is changing.

Director: Geoffrey Wright
Stars: Russell Crowe, Daniel Pollock, Jacqueline McKenzie
Biography | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Simple Italian postman learns to love poetry while delivering mail to a famous poet; he uses this to woo local beauty Beatrice.

Directors: Michael Radford, Massimo Troisi
Stars: Massimo Troisi, Philippe Noiret, Maria Grazia Cucinotta
Biography | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Two teenage girls share a unique bond; their parents, concerned that the friendship is too intense, separate them, and the girls take revenge.

Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Melanie Lynskey, Kate Winslet, Sarah Peirse
Diva (1981)
Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Two tapes, two Parisian mob killers, one corrupt policeman, an opera fan, a teenage thief, and the coolest philosopher ever filmed. All these characters twist their way through an intricate and stylish French language thriller.

Director: Jean-Jacques Beineix
Stars: Wilhelmenia Fernandez, Frédéric Andréi, Richard Bohringer
Drama | Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process is tempted to betray it. But there's more to it than that.

Director: David Mamet
Stars: Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Campbell Scott
Smoke (1995)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A Brooklyn smoke shop is the center of neighborhood activity, and the stories of its customers.

Director: Wayne Wang
Stars: Harvey Keitel, William Hurt, Giancarlo Esposito
Drama | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A boy and his brother don't get along well. In order to let their ill mother rest, they're separated and sent each one with their relatives.

Director: Lasse Hallström
Stars: Anton Glanzelius, Tomas von Brömssen, Anki Lidén
Comedy | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

Embarrassed by his large nose, a romantic poet/soldier romances his cousin by proxy.

Director: Jean-Paul Rappeneau
Stars: Gérard Depardieu, Anne Brochet, Vincent Perez
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rena Owen ... Beth Heke
Temuera Morrison ... Jake Heke
Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell ... Grace Heke
Julian Arahanga ... Nig Heke
Taungaroa Emile ... Boogie Heke
Rachael Morris Jr. Rachael Morris Jr. ... Polly Heke
Joseph Kairau ... Huata Heke
Cliff Curtis ... Bully
Pete Smith ... Dooley
George Henare ... Bennett
Mere Boynton Mere Boynton ... Mavis
Shannon Williams ... Toot
Calvin Tuteao ... Taka (Gang Leader)
Ray Bishop Ray Bishop ... King Hitter (in pub)
Ian Mune ... Judge
Edit

Storyline

Set in urban Auckland (New Zealand) this movie tells the story of the Heke family. Jake Heke is a violent man who beats his wife frequently when drunk, and yet obviously loves both her and his family. The movie follows a period of several weeks in the family's life showing Jake's frequent outburst of violence and the effect that this has on his family. The youngest son is in trouble with the police and may be put into a foster home while the elder son is about to join a street gang. Jake's daughter has her own serious problems which are a key element in the plot. Written by Chris Maslin <maslinc@cad.canterbury.ac.nz>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A family in crisis, a life in chaos... Nothing is more powerful than a mother's love. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for pervasive language and strong depiction of domestic abuse, including sexual violence and substance abuse | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Details

Official Sites:

FineLine

Country:

New Zealand

Language:

English | Maori | Spanish

Release Date:

3 March 1995 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Alma dos Guerreiros See more »

Filming Locations:

Auckland, New Zealand See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,608,570

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,608,570
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby | Dolby SR

Color:

Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was turned down by various potential backers and producers including the New Zealand Film Commission. A key turning point in getting the project off the ground was that Wellington playwright Riwia Brown rewrote Duff's original script and made it as much the story of Beth and her children as it is the story of Jake. Then director Tamahori knew he was onto a winner. Tanahori said "You couldn't have it be a story about a mindlessly violent thug. I was more fascinated by a story of a mother who makes efforts to rise above her circumstances and create a life for her children." See more »

Goofs

During the opening scenes, Beth Heke is walking past the yard where some men are working out with weights. One man is "spotting" the other man who is doing bench-presses. As the camera changes angles, the man who is spotting changes from spotting with his palms facing down to actually doing "curls" with the bar that the other man is pressing up and down. Each time there is a change in the camera angle, his grip on the bar goes back and forth from palms-up/curling to palms-down/shoulder shrugs. This happens several times. See more »

Quotes

Te Tupaea: The British used to think the bayonet was the most lethal of all hand to hand combat weapons, till they came across our warriors, who fought with the Taiaha. You think your fist is your weapon? When I have taught you, your mind will be.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Most of the opening credits are either split in half, scattered in different areas of the screen, abnormally shaped or used in small white print. Some are even mixed. See more »

Connections

References White Men Can't Jump (1992) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Beautifully acted, powerfully moving
15 October 2003 | by manalone923See all my reviews

I don't know where to start. When I'm asked of my favorite movie ever, this is ALWAYS the first to come to mind. This is one of the finest movies I've ever seen, and I've seen too many to count.

Once Were Warriors is, at its most stripped, about a woman named Beth and her struggle to just do what's best for her family. She is of Maori heritage, New Zealand's sort of Native Americans. Culture is a proud and powerful aspect of the movie, as Beth's strengths lie in her devotion to her family and her heritage. But that is little comfort, as her daughter is struggling to accept adulthood, her youngest son is heading towards juvenile detention, and her oldest son is fast on his way to joining a brutal gang. Worst of all, her husband Jake is a heavy drinker.

The film excels at painting everybody in full 3 dimensions. Each of her kids are troubled, but they all have fierce love and respect for their mother. The gang is cruel to the oldest son, but at the same time embraces him. The juvenile detention center separates the youngest son from his only home, but instills in him a pride in his ancestry. And Jake himself is a beast, a man built like a tank who will destroy you with anything available should you spill his beer...but somehow he also comes across as loving Beth. Sometimes.

The film follows Beth as she does her best to hold the family together even while the various problems tear them apart. At the center is Jake's drinking and further carelessness of his family's dissipation. While Beth's answer is to nurture and aid her children, Jake insists it's best to drink away the problems and quit being so "soft" on the kids. And we watch, through it all, as the family spirals further apart. Near the end, after seeing both happy and horrible things happen to each of the characters, we are jarred by a terrible tragedy. Beth and Jake both deal with it uniquely, as she draws once again on the tremendous power of family and human spirit, while Jake deals with it his own way. The last 15 minutes of the film keep us in suspense as we wonder whether a certain horrible injustice will be confronted, and if so, how. This scenario involves and encapsulates everyone in the family, and who they are inside.

The last few moments of the movie made me want to jump to my feet and applaud. I won't reveal what happens, but in the last 5 minutes, every person shows so much inner strength that I glow with admiration for their actions. Especially those of Beth and her oldest son, whose interaction with Jake results in my favorite scene in the movie. But don't think you know what's going to happen based on this description -it's a complicated scenario. I felt satisfied with the conclusion on all fronts, and thought that each character showed exactly where their strength lies.

Be forewarned that this movie is very heartbreaking. Its overall tone is one of futility, of better lives not received, of wanting the best but never quite getting it. It is very raw and intense in its portrayal of physical and domestic violence, and the easily upset may have a hard time waiting to see if it ends happily enough for their tastes. But no matter what your opinion is, it will definitely be a film that stays with you for a long, long time. My highest recommendation.


161 of 170 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 285 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Free Movies and TV Shows You Can Watch Now

On IMDb TV, you can catch Hollywood hits and popular TV series at no cost. Select any poster below to play the movie, totally free!

Browse free movies and TV series

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed