Hongi (James Rolleston) – a Maori chieftains teenage son – must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honour to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains, led by Wirepa (Te Kohe Tuhaka), Hongis only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior” (Lawrence Makoare), a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.
A Fresh Take
The Dead Lands is a fresh take on a martial arts action movie, showing a world not seen in cinemas before. The exotic feel of the film comes from its origins in New Zealand, where the locations, the people, the fighting style, the language and the spiritual beliefs underpinning the story have never before been exposed.
The style of martial arts fighting, known as Mau Rakau, is based on ancient hand-to-hand combat with traditional clubs and spears, where the emphasis is on deft footwork, fast hand action and ferocious facial expressions.
Says Mau Rakau expert, trainer and actor Jamus Webster:
Weve added elements, contemporary elements to the choreography and the weaponry. We are trying to engage those who dont know our culture, our beliefs and our customs, so they can enjoy the film for what it is. But we do not camouflage our culture. We let our language and the commitment of our actors bring each character alive and we let that carry the story.
Stunt co-ordinator Steve McQuillan pays tribute to the actors for their dedication and athletic abilities and the fact that the stunt doubles ended up with a lighter workload than originally envisaged.
The Dead Lands opens in cinemas nationwide on 30 October 2014.