The Shadow

SFX - - Dvd & blu- ray -

Re­lease Date: 1 June

2015 | 15 | DVD Direc­tor: Toa Fraser Cast: Lawrence Makoare, James Rolle­ston, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Ho­ran, Ruakura Turei, Rena Owen

Af­ter The

Hob­bit, you could be for­given for pre­sum­ing that Ki­wis live in an idyl­lic par­adise pop­u­lated by furry- footed folk. Direc­tor Toa Fraser dis­pels such images with this ex­hil­a­rat­ingly bru­tal his­tor­i­cal ac­tioner; set in New Zealand at an un­spec­i­fied time be­fore Euro­pean coloni­sa­tion, it sin­gle­hand­edly pi­o­neers the sub­genre of Maori mar­tial arts movies.

With their strik­ing mo­hawks and tat­toos, th­ese fear­some Maori fighters would be more at home in Mad Max’s post- apoc­a­lyp­tic en­vi­rons than the Shire’s gen­teel sur­rounds. Fraser is best known in­ter­na­tion­ally for off­beat Ed­war­dian com­edy Dean Span­ley, but The Dead Lands couldn’t be more dif­fer­ent.

The film takes its name from the oth­er­worldly re­gion in which main char­ac­ter The War­rior ( Lawrence Makoare) re­sides, but Fraser down­plays the fan­tas­ti­cal el­e­ments, in­stead em­pha­sis­ing the im­por­tance of the spir­i­tual side of Maori life. Makoare gives a raw, emo­tion­ally com­pelling per­for­mance as the cold­hearted out­cast who re­luc­tantly takes young Hongi ( James Rolle­ston) un­der his wing af­ter his fam­ily are mas­sa­cred by a ri­val tribe.

While the subti­tled dia­logue is in Maori, it makes lit­tle dif­fer­ence, as the char­ac­ters let their fists do all the talk­ing.

An edi­tion of Maori doc­u­men­tary se­ries Waka Huia ( 29 min­utes, subti­tled) on the mak­ing of the film. Stephen Jewell Fraser worked with Mau Rakau ex­pert James Web­ster to de­velop a unique form of the Maori mar­tial art for the movie.

Who knows what evil lurks?

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

1994 | 12 | Dual for­mat Blu- ray/ DVD Direc­tor: Rus­sell Mulc­ahy Cast: Alan Baldwin, John Lone, Pene­lope Ann Miller, Ian McKellen, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry

Pulp mag­a­zine

avenger the Shadow was one of the key in­spi­ra­tions for Bat­man, but it’s the Dark Knight who casts the true shadow here. From its gar­goyle- adorned sky­scrapers to faux- Danny Elf­man score, it’s a film shame­lessly chas­ing the box of­fice of Tim Bur­ton’s 1989 block­buster.

But don’t file it next to Dick Tracy as a mis­fir­ing early ’ 90s Bat­wannabe. High­lander’s Rus­sell Mulc­ahy brings idio­syn­cratic style and en­ergy, rev­el­ling in the ro­man­ti­cised ’ 30s trap­pings but also the sheer giddy joy of cinema it­self. One bravura se­quence hur­tles us through Man­hat­tan’s canyons, the cam­era pur­su­ing the Shadow’s se­cret net­work of com­mu­ni­ca­tion pipes. Else­where a fly­ing knife with the malev­o­lent face of a de­mon has the freaky charm of a Har­ry­hausen Sin­bad flick. Mulc­ahy’s eye is never less than rest­less and imag­i­na­tive.

There are glitches: Alec Baldwin’s a lit­tle too coarse for the Cary Grant play­boy act of the Shadow’s al­ter ego and lines like “Psy­chi­cally I’m very well en­dowed” have a tad too much smirk about them. But while the movie’s tongue hov­ers in its cheek it re­spects the spirit of its source ma­te­rial. The Shadow’s en­trance – all swirling, mock­ing laugh­ter and fists punch­ing out of the New York mist – is so true to the pulps you can al­most in­hale the cheap ink and wood­chip pa­per.

A look- back fea­turette ( 24 min­utes) in­ter­views Mulc­ahy and var­i­ous cast and crew; gallery; trailer. Nick Setch­field Rus­sell Mulc­ahy wanted to use Shadow vil­lain the Voodoo Mas­ter in the se­quel that never was.

Poldark was just get­ting ridicu­lous now.

Frank was still scared of SARS.

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