Once Were Warriors Blu-ray

Once Were Warriors - 1994

Communicado - 98 min.

DVD UPC/EAN # 9339065002577; 79043637025; 774212111235; 9315842020361; 5017239190223; 743217785994; 9315841995271; 857692005857(US/CA)
Blu-ray UPC/EAN # 9339065001990(AU); 857692005864(US/CA); 4260336461074(DE); 5028836040811(UK); 5051889703617(FR)

Cast: Temuera Morrison, Rena Owen, Anita Ker-Bell, Taungaoa Emile, Julian Arahanga, Rachael Morris, Cliff Curtis, Ray Bishop, Calvin Tuteau.
Screenplay: Riwia Brown (from the book by Alan Duff); Photography: Stuart Dryburg; Editor: Michael Horton; Music: Murray Grindlay, Murray McNabb, Herbs; Producer: Robin Scholes; Director: Lee Tamahori.

A hard-hitting drama portraying a Maori family stuck in the state housing of South Auckland. Jake, the father, rejected by his wife's tribe and laid off from work, contents himself by drinking with his mates in the local booze barn and partying at night. Like several of the men, he is not slow to use his fists and boots on anyone who riles him, including his wife. During the film the oldest son is inducted into a gang, another son is put away for stealing, and the 13-year-old daughter commits suicide after being raped by her uncle. First NZ film to gross more than $6 million. A much awarded film that should be seen, but not by young children.

Censor rating: R16 - Review rating: B+

Once Were Warriors
Official MP4 Trailer


New NTSC VHS or R1 DVDs will average $16us. New PAL VHS copies sell for about 9# or $10nz. R2 DVDs can be purchased for 12# or 10eur. R4 DVDs for about $15au or $20nz. Expect used copies to sell for at least 50% new prices. The R1 DVD is a 1.85 anamorphic presentation, but not 16x9 enhanced, with dolby digital 5.1 and includes extras of a "Behind the Scenes" featurette, trailers, major cast & director Bios a stills gallery and a optional director's commentary track.

There is a Dendy/Magna Pacific "Collector's Edition" R4 version, released in Australia and New Zealand, presented 1.79:1 16x9 enhanced with soundtrack options of DD 5.1 surround or DTS 5.1 surround or DD 2.0 director's commentary track. It is a digitally restored print with extras of: a "Behind the Scenes" featurette (12:27), principal cast video interviews (6:50), principal cast text biographies, a music trailer (no dialogue) (1:53), International trailer (1:52), a Tamahori short - 'Thunderbox' (26:10), two very short TV commercials and six music videos: What's the Time Mr. Wolf? (4:31), Once Were Warriors Theme (3:29), Ragga Girl (3:48), Tahi (3:46), Kia Tu Mahea (3:06), U Know (I Like It) (3:42). It sells for about $20au or $20nz.

Dendy/Icon has also re-released this on another DVD with the added cover tag of "Approved for Blokes" or "Dendy Edge", which contains all the same basic specs and extras found on the afore mentioned R4 release except for not having the DTS 5.1 surround option, but it does contain an English subtitle option. I recommend either of these two Dendy DVD releases, so the only question is whether you want the DTS 5.1 option or English subtitle option.

Dendy/Icon(AU) has released an All regions 1080i 1.78:1 Blu-ray version which is selling for about $25(au/nz) or $35us. It contains all the same extras as the R4 DVD versions indicated above, except there are no trailers or TV commercials. Sound options are DTS-HD Master 5.1 or DD 5.1 spoken English and Maori soundtrack with optional audio commentary by the director. It also contains an English subtitle option and a 13 chapter menu.

Starting 06 September 2016, Film Movement Classics released R1 ntsc DVD with DD 5.1 and Region Free 1080p Blu-ray with DTS HD MA 5.1 in the US and Canada. Bonus features include: Behind-the-Scenes featurette; Collector's Booklet with film essay by New Zealand cinema expert Peter Calder; Once Were Warriors trailer, The Quiet Earth trailer and five unrelated trailers. It has optional English subtitles. It does not contain the director's commentary track option found on the previous releases.

There is a German 3-disc set (1 - Region B Blu-ray & 2 - Region 2 DVDs) that has spoken English DD 5.1 and spoken German DD 5.1 tracks on the DVD of the feature and a spoken English HD DTS 5.1 and spoken German HD DTS 5.1 tracks on the Blu-ray. There are optional German subtitles. Extras include: 'Once Were Warriors: Where are they Now' documentary and an interview with Rena Owen.

Second Sight (UK) will be releasing a Blu-ray, as well as a VOD version, on 19 February 2018. The extras include a 52 minute 20 years after re-uniting 'Where Are They Now' of cast and crew documentary. Additionally, there is a interview with director Lee Tamahori. It is selling for 14# - 20#.

A French version was released 16 December 2020 that has both DVD and Blu-ray discs plus a 40 page booklet and a 50 minute documentary, selling for about 25eur.

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Digital Fix Blu-ray Review

Evan Popplestone February 2018 UK Blu-ray Review

Christopher Zabel Review of 2016 US/CA Blu-ray Release at doblu.com

DVDCompare - All four Blu-ray versions

Gary W. Tooze's comparison reviews of Film Movement vs. Second Sight Blu-ray Releases

Michael Reuben Review of September 2016 Blu-ray release

Impulse Gamer Blu-ray Review

Blu-ray.com Overview of 2009 Release

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MovieReview Query - 44 articles

"The only colors Maori had available to them for hundreds and hundreds of years were black, red, and white. These are predominantly themes in Maori art and culture. Even though we were making this film about an alienated urban family, I wanted to keep these very earthy, organic colors saturated into the picture. So through a filtering process which we did in the laboratory in order to enrich skin tones, we got a good, rich sepia look. And then, art direction-wise, we took every primary color out, except red, and just had it black, gray, and brown. It gets into your psyche, that's the stuff that cinema can do so well." - (Robert Sklar, "Social Realism with Style, an interview with Lee Tamahori", Cineaste )

"It could be argued that Tamahori overdoes the level of violence, over- stating his point and risking the alienation of his target audience. But this is an in- your- face slice of realism, and the violence is certainly not exaggerated. Rena Owen plays Beth with distinction, creating a believably passionate woman whose life hasn't turned out the way she planned. As Jake, Temuera Morrison manages to invest this brutal, shiftless character with charm..." - (David Stratton, Variety, May 30, 1994)


Bulletin, v.116no.5949(Dec.6 1994)
Dominion, May 28, 1994
Entertainment weekly, no.265(Mar.10 1995)
Filmnews, v.25 issue 1(Mar.Apr.1995)
Guardian weekly, v.152no.17(Apr.23 1995)
Listener, v.143no.2822(May 14 1994)
Metro (Melbourne), no.101(1995)
New musical express, 15 Apr., 1995
New republic, issue 4184(Mar.27 1995)
New Zealand herald, May 13, 1994
Quote, unquote, no.11(May 1994)
Sight and sound, v.5,issue 4(Apr.1995)
Sunday star-times, May 8, 1994


VIDEO VAULT - Links to trailers and clips for all titles.

NZ On Screen Videos & Comments

Once Were Warriors - The cast 25 years later

The N to Z of Film on SoundCloud

'Absolute privilege' to play Beth Heke, says Rena Owen

Once Were Warriors - clips(Flash)

'What's The Time Mr. Wolf?' - Southside of Bombay Music Video

Complete Script at Script-O-Rama.

1996 New Zealand Stamps First Day Cover which includes "Warriors" stamp.

Internet Movie Poster Awards

The New Zealand Box Office Million Dollar Movie List

Information at the New Zealand Film Commission Website

Information at IMDB


1994 - Venice Film Festival - Anica-Flash Best First Film Award
1994 - San Diego International Film Festival - Best Actress: Rena Owen
1994 - Montreal World Film Festival - Best Actress: Rena Owen; Grand Priz des Ameriques; Prize of the Ecumenical Jury; Public Prize.
1994 - New Zealand Film Awards - Best Film; Director; Screenplay; film score; Supporting Actress: Mamaengaroa Kerr-Bell; Actor: Tenuera Morrison; Juvenile: Taungaroa Emile.
1995 - Australian Film Institute - Best Foreign Film
1995 - Fantasporto - Best Actress: Rena Owen; Critic's Award: Special Mention
1995 - Rotterdam International Film Festival - Best Actress: Rena Owen.

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