Release Date: 1 June
2015 | 15 | DVD Director: Toa Fraser Cast: Lawrence Makoare, James Rolleston, Te Kohe Tuhaka, Xavier Horan, Ruakura Turei, Rena Owen
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
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.