This was a sequel to Once Were Warriors. When I saw the
earlier film I felt it was intense and powerful but, at heart,
hypocritical about the violence it portrayed. It seemed at the
same time to deplore Jake's resort to belting up anyone who got
on the wrong side of him, including his wife Beth, while holding
up as a good thing his eldest son Nig's involvement with a group
heavily committed to the old Maori military culture.
Well this sequel, though far inferior to its predecessor, did
actually face up to the issue of that hypocrisy. More than face
up to it, in fact. Within minutes of the story getting under way,
Nig is dead at the hands of his own gang, victim of an
unsuspected years old grudge against his father. As any
perceptive person can see, violence breeds violence, and Nig paid
the price for flirting with it.
The story thenceforth followed two threads. In one, Jake and
Rita's younger son Sonny and Nig's bereaved girlfriend Rita
plotted lethal revenge against the guilty gang leader. In the
other Jake underwent a slow and painful spiritual journey to make
the changes in his own life required to achieve reconciliation
with his long estranged family, and especially with the obviously
The two threads combined at the film's end in a resolution that
stretched belief just a little too far.
The unlikely story of the gangs and the revenge plot was
redeemed by some kinetic direction and another smashing
performance from Temuera Morrison. He made Jake's explosively
violent rages downright frightening to watch, every bit as
terrifying, though in a different key, as the performance of
Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting.
The supporting performances were also excellent. The film was
let down only by the frankly silly storyline.