What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

A Review by Peter Ryan - Ausfilms.com

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 troubled Sonny.

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.

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