New Zealand is the star of this totally bonkers action movie about ancient warring Maori tribes. Director Toa Fraser’s haunting shots of the country’s vast, beautiful and untouched landscapes say ‘come visit me’. If you do, pray you don’t bump into the bloodthirsty protagonists of this brutal Maori-language epic, which was New Zealand’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Oscars.
It’s the tale of Hongi (James Rolleston), a teenage boy on a journey of revenge across the Dead Lands – home to a fabled flesh-eating monster – after his people are slaughtered by another tribe just for vicious kicks. The many gory but tautly choreographed battle scenes are a treat – all beginning with an ancestral haka war dance. The plot gets a little convoluted and, when the magic mushrooms come out, more than a little trippy, but overall it’s a fun thriller with a difference that’ll have you reaching for the travel brochures.