“Set in the Maori world of pre-colonial New Zealand, Toa Fraser’s dazzling action-adventure is an imaginative voyage through a time of violent emotions.” – Hollywood Reporter
Hongi, a Maori chieftain’s teenage son, must avenge his father’s murder after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains led by Wirepa, Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior”, a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
Fraser (director of the vastly different Number Two and Dead Spanley) plunges the audience into a tribal society with a complex culture of shifting relationships and allegiances – complete with battle rituals, codes of honour and dignity, where the spirit world is so close as to be a part of everyday life. Shot entirely in the Maori language, and starring Boy’s James Rolleston (now 17) as Hongi, The Dead Lands is New Zealand’s official submission for Oscar’s Best Foreign Language film. A hugely ambitious and unique fantasy-adventure epic which reminds us that the Maori certainly once were warriors.